Justin Verlander Open to Short-Term Contract in Free Agency; Astros in Play

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 6, 2019

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first baseball game of a doubleheader, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander has been vocal about the slow-moving free agency for players this offseason, something that could directly impact him next year.

Per MLB Network's Jon Heyman, Verlander noted he would be open to signing a short-term deal and is "cognizant" the impact his contract could have on the overall market. 

"I plan to pitch into my mid-40s," he said. "I don't need to sign a five-year deal."

Verlander also said he hasn't "shut the door" on potentially returning to the Astros, per Heyman.

Assuming Verlander doesn't sign an extension with Houston before the end of next season, the winter of 2019 will mark his first time as a free agent. 

The seven-time All-Star signed a seven-year extension worth $180 million with the Detroit Tigers in March 2013. 

Last month, as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remained unsigned, Verlander took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with MLB's "system" being broken:

Justin Verlander @JustinVerlander

100 or so free agents left unsigned. System is broken. They blame “rebuilding” but that’s BS. You’re telling me you couldn’t sign Bryce or Manny for 10 years and go from there? Seems like a good place to start a rebuild to me. 26-36 is a great performance window too.

Justin Verlander @JustinVerlander

Agreed... finally we’re on the same page! Awesome! Removal of the luxury tax it is. https://t.co/Omy0SaXZ1z

Given Verlander's age (36), there's the potential that MLB teams are reluctant to invest multiple years and big money in him. The 2011 American League Cy Young winner has shown no signs of slowing down heading into his 14th season. 

Verlander finished second in AL Cy Young voting last season after posting a 2.52 ERA in 34 starts. He led the AL with 290 strikeouts, 0.902 WHIP and 7.84 strikeout-to-walk ratio.