The New York Mets and free-agent pitcher Justin Verlander reportedly agreed to a two-year, $86 million deal.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the deal includes a vesting third-year option. Details on the performance thresholds Verlander will need to meet for that option to vest have not been reported.
Verlander went 18-4 with a 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP while striking out 185 batters in 175 innings last season, winning the AL Cy Young in the process. He had made only one start in 2020 and 2021 combined due to Tommy John surgery before becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to win a Cy Young after not pitching the previous season.
The new contract will make Verlander the fourth player in MLB history to earn over $300 million during his career. By the time Verlander's deal is done, he will be third all-time in MLB career earnings, behind only Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera. If he hits his vesting mark, Verlander will surpass Cabrera for second all time.
Highest-Paid Players in MLB History
- Alex Rodriguez ($455.2 million)
- Miguel Cabrera ($353.2 million)
- Albert Pujols ($341.8 million)
- Justin Verlander ($299.6 million)
- Zack Greinke ($277.7 million)
While it's hard to argue against signing the reigning AL Cy Young winner and a World Series champion, the Mets are certainly taking a risk. They'll go into next season with their top two pitchers being a combined 78 years old. Max Scherzer turns 39 in July, and Verlander turns 40 next February.
As great as both Verlander and Scherzer are, that historically isn't a recipe for sustainable success. Scherzer had his lowest full-season start total of his career (23) in 2022, and Verlander's recent arm troubles are well-documented.
With that said, it's a short-term contract, so the risk is limited. The Mets didn't have many high-level options remaining after Jacob deGrom signed with the Texas Rangers.
Verlander, meanwhile, continues to pad his lead as the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history.