Justin Verlander ultimately went with what he knew for the 2022 season following a flirtation with other teams in the wake of Tommy John surgery. The 39-year-old returned to the Astros, had one of the best seasons of his career and won his second World Series.
That the future Hall of Famer has not yet struck a deal with Houston for 2023 could mean he’s intrigued by opportunities elsewhere.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal wrote Monday night that the right-hander’s ongoing free-agent status after opting out of his 2023 pact is “perhaps because Verlander sees the potential for lucrative opportunities with the Mets, Yankees and Dodgers, among others.”
The Mets might be particularly interested in Verlander if Jacob deGrom ends up leaving Flushing — though Rosenthal reports the Rangers may look for lower-tier free agents or explore trades because of the high asks by the top starters, and that the Braves are “highly unlikely” to sign deGrom. The Mets showed a willingness to give out a massive salary on a short-term deal by giving Max Scherzer a record-breaking three-year, $130 million contract last year.
Meanwhile, the Yankees offered Verlander $25 million last offseason and they could try again, though The Post’s Jon Heyman reported they “became discouraged” when Verlander went back to Houston for the same amount of money. It will take more than $25 million to get Verlander to leave Houston this offseason, following a dominant return that will likely lead to his third AL Cy Young award.
The nine-time All-Star went 18-4 with a 1.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 175 innings during the 2022 regular season. He had a roller-coaster postseason over four starts with a 5.85 ERA, but he dominated the Yankees in the ALCS and earned the win in Game 5 of the World Series.