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Justin Verlander Says Signing Mets Contract Was 'Leap of Faith,' Credits Steve Cohen

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 20, 2022

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 20: Pitcher Justin Verlander of the New York Mets walks into his introductory press conference at Citi Field on December 20, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander credited owner Steve Cohen at his introductory press conference for his decision to leave the Houston Astros for the New York Mets.

"I took a leap of faith, and here we are a few weeks later, and I think that leap of faith has paid off," Verlander told reporters Tuesday. "Ultimately, some of those pieces aren't cheap."

Verlander responded with one word, "Steve," when asked what convinced him to join the Mets, who were in the market for a big-name pitcher after losing two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom in free agency to the Texas Rangers.

The Mets rebounded nicely by adding Verlander, who inked a two-year, $86.7 million contract.

Per Danny Abriano of SNY, Verlander said he had a "lovely conversation" with Cohen and got a "positive vibe for what his vision of this franchise is, and that he wants to make this franchise amazing."

He also added that conversations with general manager Billy Eppler and manager Buck Showalter convinced him that everyone is on the same page regarding turning the Mets into a championship-caliber team.

"To follow that up, speaking with Billy and the rest of the staff -- Buck (Showalter) -- they all share that same vision and passion to do whatever is necessary to make this a championship-caliber organization again. And really, that's what it came down to for me was wanting to be a part of this vision moving forward. And obviously this organization took a gigantic step forward last year, had a great season. I think it's only going to continue in the right direction."

Cohen has backed up that sentiment by going on offseason spending sprees since he bought the team in late 2020. This year, he's committed $476.7 million to seven free agents, per Blum, including $162 million to retain Brandon Nimmo and $75 million to add Japanese starting pitcher Kodai Senga.

They join a Mets team that won 101 games last year but fell to the San Diego Padres in the Wild Card Series.

Cohen is clearly pulling out all the stops, to the point where the team is projected to have a $360 million luxury-tax payroll in 2023, per Blum.

Ultimately, Cohen isn't afraid to spend hundreds of millions to get the Mets their first World Series championship since 1986, and that has led to Verlander joining a stacked roster.