Mets, Dodgers adding third year would sweeten Justin Verlander chase

Hall of Fame-bound Justin Verlander has two-year offers from multiple big-market clubs — presumably including the Dodgers and Mets, who seem to be the co-favorites — but there are indications that a deal could be struck if any of these teams adds the third year.

Verlander, 39, put together yet another Cy Young season in 2022, and has often spoken about how he believes he can go long in terms of years, at least until he’s 45, à la Tom Brady. He’s also been willing to take shorter deals in the past and bet on himself, so he may wind up doing one of the two-year deals.

Verlander appears to be the first choice over the other remaining ace, Carlos Rodon, on a pitching market where prices are escalating rapidly. The Mets were willing to go three years on their own Jacob deGrom, and although Verlander is a half-decade older, it can’t be ruled out that they’d add that third year.

The Mets understand they’d need to land an ace to replace deGrom, and only Verlander and Rodon, whose stock has risen dramatically, fit that bill on the free-agent market. There’s been some sense the Mets may be working the trade route, but it isn’t believed the Brewers will end up trading their co-aces, Corbin Burnes or Brandon Woodruff.

Free agent
Justin Verlander
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Verlander, who declined an offer from the Yankees last year to return to Houston, where he won his second World Series, seems to be the Mets’ top choice following deGrom’s decision to go to the Rangers for $185 million and five years, a deal the Mets didn’t come close to touching. Mets owner Steve Cohen is thought to be intrigued by the possible reunion of Verlander and his own ace pitcher Max Scherzer from their Detroit days. At this point, there aren’t many other choices, anyway.

Some still see the Dodgers as an even likelier destination, possibly since Verlander and his actress/model wife Kate Upton have a home in Los Angeles.

“The Dodgers will get someone,” a prominent agent opined.

The pitching-strong Astros, meantime, don’t seem inclined to go big to bring back Verlander and are concentrating on catcher and a corner outfielder.

Rodon remains in play for the Mets and Dodgers, though at least at the moment, the Yankees are the big-market team most focused on the 30-year-old who is expected to command a longer deal but at somewhat lower dollars. Word is he was seeking six years at more than $30 million following his big season in San Francisco. The Rangers are still lurking for Rodon, and the Orioles are among others interested.

Justin Verlander

The incumbent Giants are yet another team in on Rodon, so the Yankees are battling the Giants on two fronts, the even more prominent one being the battle for Aaron Judge, who is expected to receive a position-player record salary in a deal for more than $300 million. Executives around the game are saying that the Yankees are the most likely to retain Judge, as they don’t see him sacrificing the legacy of the pinstripes for a few extra dollars and a location closer to his boyhood home in Northern California.

Folks wouldn’t be surprised if the Judge call came at these winter meetings. The Yankees and Giants are both talking to several other stars and are readying to pivot in case Judge goes the other way. The Yankees have the payroll to sign a star starter along with Judge but are presumably talking to the four star shortstops in case the unthinkable happens and Judge leaves. The Giants also are in on the shortstops.