When you lose one multi-time Cy Young Award winner, why not replace him with another? That's the strategy the New York Mets adopted Monday.
The New York Post's Jon Heyman reported the team agreed to a two-year, $86 million deal with Justin Verlander that includes a vesting option for a third year. The move comes days after Jacob deGrom inked a five-year contract with the Texas Rangers.
Verlander's decision carries obvious implications for his new team and his old one, the Houston Astros.
Steve Cohen Will Settle for Nothing Less Than a World Series Title
Monday was another reminder these aren't the Fred Wilpon-era Mets.
It's doubtful the previous ownership regime would've been so aggressive in replacing deGrom. Steve Cohen, on the other hand, wants to leave no stone unturned in pursuit of a championship.
New York lost its ace but added the reigning American League Cy Young honoree, who led the majors in ERA (1.75), ERA+ (220) and WHIP (0.83), per Baseball Reference. From a fan perspective, this is exactly what you'd want to see from an owner with Cohen's ambitions and resources.
Jake Brown @JakeBrownRadio
Of course $43 million a year is a lot of money for a 40 year old pitcher.<br><br>But Justin Verlander just won the AL Cy Young at 39 & his 2nd World Series ring.<br><br>This is a home run signing by Steve Cohen and the Mets after losing Jacob deGrom. <br><br>Max Scherzer<br>Justin Verlander<br><br>BOOM. <a href="https://t.co/PRJ8Xk9P7s">pic.twitter.com/PRJ8Xk9P7s</a>
Between signing Verlander and re-signing Edwin Díaz, the Mets have already crossed off two of their top priorities. Addressing the outfield should be the next step with Brandon Nimmo on the open market. We can probably rule out a last-minute pursuit of Aaron Judge at this stage, but there are plenty of solid alternatives if Nimmo doesn't return.
Doubling Down on Aging Aces a Potential Gamble for Mets
Getting Verlander, even on a fairly short contract, isn't without some risk for a team pushing in all of its chips.
On Opening Day, the Mets' two best starters will be 40 and 38, respectively. Carlos Carrasco turns 36 in March, too.
Like Verlander, Max Scherzer continued to pitch at a high level in 2022. He posted a 2.29 ERA and a 2.62 FIP over 145.1 innings. His 23 starts were his fewest in a 162-game season since his rookie year in 2008, though. The oblique trouble he experienced in his first year with the team could be a foreboding sign.
Verlander, meanwhile, is two seasons removed from Tommy John surgery. He can't fight off Father Time forever.
With what we know now, you make this move every time if you're the Mets. However, it won't be a total shock if things go very badly.
Astros Deserve Benefit of the Doubt with Verlander's Departure
Losing a key contributor in the offseason has become the norm for the reigning World Series champions. First it was Gerrit Cole after the 2019 season. Then George Springer was out the door after 2020, followed by Carlos Correa and Zack Greinke a year later.
Some of the players change, but the level of winning stays the same. Why should Verlander's departure be any different?
Houston will head into 2023 with a starting rotation of Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, José Urquidy, Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. That group could still be one of the best in MLB.
Robert Flores @RoFlo
Losing Verlander is tough, but rotation of: <br><br>Valdez <br>McCullers<br>Javier <br>Urquidy <br>Garcia<br>Brown?<br><br>Still potentially dominant. Again.<br><br>*whispers* Javier might have been their best starter in postseason <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/astros?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#astros</a>
To the degree the Astros are worse without Verlander, it shouldn't be enough to preclude them from successfully defending their World Series crown.