Mets land top-100 prospect in Justin Verlander trade to Astros

MLB: Chicago White Sox at New York Mets, justin verlander
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets have made some history in 2023, but perhaps not what was envisioned on Opening Day. 

According to Jeff Pasan of ESPN, the Mets have dealt Justin Verlander alongside cash to the Houston Astros in exchange for outfield prospects Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford.

This makes the Mets the first team ever to trade away two three-time Cy Young Award winners in one week.

A look back at Verlander’s time in Queens

After five successful seasons in Houston, including two World Series Championships, Verlander came to the Mets on a two-year $86.66 million contract with a $35 million third-year option to form a dynamic pitching duo with Max Scherzer.

Although the three-time Cy-Young Award winner had a slow start to his Mets tenure thanks to landing on the injured list with a low-grade teres major strain and ultimately did not pitch until May 4th, Verlander still has managed to put up solid numbers.

Since debuting with the blue and orange, Verlander has pitched 94.1 innings across 16 starts to a 3.15 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP while striking out 81.

The nine-time all-star has been on a tear in July, pitching 37.1 innings across six starts to an impressive 1.69 ERA while striking out 32

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Who the Mets got back for Verlander

The Mets got two of the Astros’ top-five prospects in Gilbert ( one) and Clifford (four).

After three successful seasons at the University of Tennessee, the Astros selected him with the 28th pick in the 2022 MLB draft. Gilbert split 2022 between Rookie Ball and Single-A, where he had a brief but productive stint.

In 11 games, the Minnesota native slashed .313/.405/.531 with two home runs and six RBIs.

Gilbert has continued to impress in the minor leagues in 2023, splitting time between High-A and Double-A. 

In 81 games, the 22-year-old has slashed .274/.363/.458 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs. In addition, Gilbert represented the Astros in the 2023 Futures Game.

Gilbert is an excellent all-around player with a cannon of an arm and excellent barrel-to-ball skill and should instantly become one of the top prospects in the Mets farm system.

Clifford got selected in the 11th round of the 2022 MLB draft and has quickly blossomed into a top prospect for the Astros.

The North Carolina native spent 2022 splitting time between Rookie Ball and Single-A.  In 25 games, Clifford slashed .247/.426/.390 with two home runs and 10 RBIs.

The 20-year-old has spent 2023 splitting time between Single-A and High-A. In 83 games, Clifford has slashed .291/.399/.520 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs.

Clifford is an excellent all-around hitter whose fielding leaves a little to desire, but if he continues to develop should turn into a solid Major League corner outfielder.

While losing Verlander is undoubtedly disappointing, the Mets are fully committed to getting younger and improving from within, which is a concept that should excite the Flushing Faithful.