Justin Verlander might ultimately re-sign with the Astros, but the veteran ace is going to maximize his earnings in free agency.
Houston Astros fans hoping for a quick resolution to Justin Verlander’s free agency are set to be disappointed. The 39-year-old right-hander knows other teams are interested in his services and is set to turn that leverage into a lucrative contract.
According to The Athletic (subscription required), Verlander “sees potential opportunities” with the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, and possibly several other teams. That doesn’t mean he has closed the door on a return to Houston, but the Astros aren’t going to succeed in retaining him on anything resembling a bargain contract.
Justin Verlander will command a high price in free agency
Verlander was not eligible for a qualifying offer from the Astros which means any team in MLB can sign him without sacrificing draft compensation. That will only add to his list of suitors in the coming weeks.
The real key to his free agency may come down to the term of the contract. He will command a premium salary on the open market, but it’s likely that Verlander will want to secure a multi-year deal given his age. A two-year contract seems likely if he wants to go that route, but if he can extract a third season from a would-be suitor it might push their bid over the top.
Verlander’s free agency will also be impacted by the decisions of several other high-end starters on the open market. Jacob deGrom struggled with injuries for the Mets last season, but teams will likely be more willing to make him a multi-year offer since he is just 35 years of age.
Carlos Rodon also has a lengthy injury history, but he enters free agency after pitching the best baseball of his professional career. Teams interested in Verlander may opt for Rodon since he’s almost 10 years younger than the former Astros ace.
In the end, the Astros will have a chance to re-sign Verlander but it’s going to require a significant cash outlay. The team that offers him the most guaranteed years will have a huge advantage in the race to land his signature.