SAN DIEGO — Three days after saying goodbye to Jacob deGrom, the Mets say hello to Justin Verlander.
The club and 2022 unanimous American League Cy Young winner Verlander agreed to a two-year deal worth $86 million on Monday, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who was not not allowed to discuss it publicly.
Together they will see what they can do. The deal hinged on the largesse of team owner Steven A. Cohen, whose club now employs the two most expensive pitchers in baseball history, based on annual paychecks. Max Scherzer’s average annual salary of $43.3 million is the highest in the game, while Verlander’s new contract puts him second with an average of $43 million per year.
The deal reunites Verlander, 39, a three-time Cy Young winner, with Scherzer, 38, also a three-time Cy Young winner. The two right-handers were teammates in Detroit from 2011 to 2014, when they helped the Tigers win three consecutive American League Championship series (2011 to 2013) and a World Series (2012, a four-game sweep by San Francis).
In New York, they will try to do what they couldn’t in Detroit: win a World Series.
Dave Dombrowski, then general manager of the Tigers and currently president of baseball operations for the Philadelphia Phillies, still views the 2013 season as the one that got away. The Tigers beat Boston at Fenway Park in Game 1 of that year’s ALCS, then led Game 2 5-0 in the sixth inning with Scherzer at the mound and Verlander expected to start Game 3 in Detroit.
But after Scherzer held the Red Sox to one run in seven innings, the Tigers bullpen began to give ground and Hall of Famer David Ortiz broke a two-out grand slam as right fielder Torii Hunter disappeared over the right field fence in a dramatic 6-5 comeback victory. The Tigers never regained their footing, and although Verlander held the Red Sox to one run over eight innings in Game 3, Boston won that game as well, 1-0, and won the World Series.
Since then, Verlander has helped the Astros win two World Series titles (2017 and 2022) and Scherzer helped lead the Washington Nationals to one (2019).
But they never won one together. And the Mets haven’t won one since 1986.
In 2022, his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, Verlander was 18-4 with an MLB best of 1.75. He also led the Majors in fewest hits allowed per nine innings.
By the time Verlander won a World Series game for the first time in his famous career last month, the Mets were at home, having followed a 101-win campaign in their first season under manager Buck Showalter with a wildcard output. at the hands of the San Diego Padres. The 101 wins were the second in franchise history.
With deGrom limited to just 11 starts in 2022 due to a stress reaction in his right shoulder and Scherzer making 23 starts, the Mets rotation has consistently ranked second in the National League with a 3.61 ERA on the season. last. He also tied with Milwaukee to lead the league in strikeouts by nine innings at 9.42.
DeGrom, who won two NL Cy Young Awards as a member of the Mets, agreed to a five-year, $185 million contract with Texas on Friday.
With Verlander turning 40 on Feb. 20, the Mets opted to offer bigger dollars and a shorter term than the deal deGrom got from Rangers. Verlander’s deal includes a $35 million vesting option for 2025 if he pitches at least 140 innings in 2024.
Verlander signed a two-year, $50 million deal with Houston last offseason, but became a free agent after forfeiting the $25 million salary owed to him for 2023. He and the Astros owner, Jim Crane, had a few conversations about Verlander. stay in Houston but, instead, for the first time in his career, Verlander will move to the NL
After Scherzer and Verlander, the Mets’ projected rotation in 2023 currently includes right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Tylor Megill and left-hander David Peterson. Right-handers Chris Bassitt and Taijuan Walker, who were part of the Mets’ 2022 rotation, are free agents.
Verlander had also spoken to the Los Angeles Dodgers before agreeing with the Mets, and shortly before his deal was reported, the Dodgers made it official that they had signed southpaw Clayton Kershaw to a contract. a year of $20 million for 2023. The Dodgers and Kershaw had agreed last month but had not formalized a contract as the club wanted to retain an open roster spot and workability.
But with Verlander agreeing to terms with the Mets, the need for at least one open roster spot suddenly wasn’t so badly needed in Los Angeles.
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