Justin Verlander agreed to an $86.7 million, two-year contract with the New York Mets on Monday, reuniting the AL Cy Young Award winner with Max Scherzer and giving the team a high-profile replacement for Jacob deGrom.
The contract is worth $43,333,333 per season and includes a vesting player option for 2025 at $35 million, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no immediate announcement.
Verlander leaves World Series champion Houston to step in for deGrom, who left New York after nine seasons when he agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract with Texas last week. It also puts Verlander on the same team as Scherzer after they played together with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-14.
Depending on the final details, it appears Verlander's deal matches Scherzer's for baseball’s record for highest average annual salary. Scherzer finalized a $130 million, three-year deal with New York a year ago.
Verlander’s storied career was in question after he had Tommy John surgery in 2020, but he made an impressive return this season, becoming the 11th player to win the Cy Young Award at least three times.
The 39-year-old Verlander went 18-4 with a major league-low 1.75 ERA in 28 regular-season starts for the Astros. The right-hander also got his first career World Series win in Game 5 as Houston beat Philadelphia in six games.
Verlander declined a $25 million option five days after helping the Astros to the franchise’s second championship, making him a free agent.
The nine-time All-Star broke into the majors with Detroit in 2005 and stayed until he was traded to the Astros in August 2017. He won his first Cy Young Award in 2011, and also took home AL MVP honors after going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA in 34 starts.
Verlander agreed to a $66 million contract with Houston covering 2020 and 2021, then hurt his elbow. After pitching one game over the previous two seasons, Verlander became a free agent and re-signed with the Astros for a $25 million, one-year deal that included the option.
Verlander is 244-133 with a 3.24 ERA and 3,198 strikeouts in 17 seasons. He also won the 2019 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 34 starts.
Cashman signs new extension with Yankees
Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees senior vice president and general manager. New York’s GM since 1998 had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.
In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, but haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.
Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge, who turned down the team’s offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29. Judge proceeded to hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs; New York was swept in the AL Championship Series.
While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.
Kershaw, Dodgers renew agreement
After the Los Angeles Dodgers had an MLB-leading 111 victories during the regular season only to get ousted by the San Diego Padres in the NL Division Series, Clayton Kershaw returned to his offseason home outside Dallas. He and his wife, Ellen, talked things over.
The Dodgers won out again. Kershaw, who turns 35 in March, re-signed for one year at $20 million with the NL West champions. The deal includes a $5 million signing bonus payable on June 30, a salary of $15 million, and a hotel suite on road trips.
“We just felt like our time wasn’t finished in LA,” he said via videoconference. “The way we ended stuff last year just feels like we got another run in us, so I’m excited to get back out there.”
For the second straight year, the Dodgers didn’t extend a qualifying offer to the three-time Cy Young Award winner. Instead, they gave him additional time to mull his future, and he once again decided to stay with the only franchise he’s ever played for during his 15-year major league career.
“I think it was my fault that it took so long to announce,” said Kershaw. “I was kind of procrastinating getting all the MRIs. I figured they had seen this enough where they didn’t need all those, but I guess they still did.”
Last winter, Kershaw didn’t pick up a baseball until January; he was 12-3 with a 2.28 ERA in 22 starts last season, starting the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium. This time, he began his throwing program on Monday.
“I feel good. I really do feel healthy,” he said. “I’ll be able to take my time and build up. It’ll be like a normal offseason.”
Angels add to bullpen
Pitcher Carlos Estévez has agreed to a two-year, $13.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The 29-year-old righty appeared in 62 games for Colorado last season with a 4-4 record, 3.47 ERA, and 54 strikeouts. “We thought he was a really good fit and our bullpen is wide open,” general manager Perry Minasian said . . . The Major League Baseball Players Association has opened its first international office in the Dominican Republic, in the Torre Sarasota Center in Santo Domingo. The MLBPA said in a news release that the goal is “increasing the level of support provided throughout players’ playing and post-playing careers.” “Our game is better because of the diversity of our player fraternity,” union leader Tony Clark said in the release. “The office demonstrates our strong commitment to continue advancing and protecting the rights of all international players.” The announcement comes after the sport’s minor league players elected to join the MLBPA in September, increasing the current membership to more than 5,000.