Signing Justin Verlander was a move the New York Mets simply had to make. Following the expected but still tough loss of nine-year Met-great Jacob deGrom, the Mets needed to pivot fast, and kudos to them for doing so.
Verlander officially agreed to terms with the Mets just a little over a day ago. While the exit from Queens for deGrom is rightfully so, still tough to accept, the addition of Verlander has seemed to excite a lot of the Met fan base, and for good reason.
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The Mets needed to get Justin Verlander:
For starters, what deGrom had given the Mets for nearly a decade was a clear identity every opponent had to account for. An elite, consistent, dominant top-of-the-rotation starter. While availability was a recent glaring issue, the loss of deGrom in free agency still created a void the Mets had to fill.
It was either going to be Verlander or Carlos Rodon who would erase that void. Two strong options the Mets could not really go wrong with either way. However, from their standpoint, shorter-term deals with more experienced players seems to be their preference at the moment, as they hope to build a strong minor-league system back up. In essence, something similar to what the Mets had when deGrom came up with Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz.
Two years for Verlander provides the Mets’ win-now team with a dominant ace right away who can also allow the organization time to build out their foundation in the minor leagues. With Rodon set to sign for five years at least, it would have gotten the Mets off of their presumed plan.
While his age is the top concern everyone has, turning 40 in February, Verlander has recently pitched as well as one could ask for. He wrapped up 2022 with a special stat line which consisted of, by far an MLB best in terms of ERA, with a 1.75. His 18 wins placed him in second across baseball. Verlander had the top WHIP in the league last season, finishing with an 0.83. His batting average against of .186 was tied for the best in the MLB.
In his most recent start, against the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, Verlander went five innings, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out six. He proved all throughout last season he still has it and can be counted on for another year or two.
Lastly, it seems as if Verlander and deGrom were the Mets top two options all the way. However, their decision was made fairly easy when deGrom landed a five-year contract with all of his recent durability concerns. While letting go of the lifelong, homegrown player is always hard, emotion cannot drive the decisions made by Steve Cohen and Billy Eppler at this time for a World Series-hopeful baseball team.
Two years for Verlander, in comparison to five for deGrom, is a relative no-brainer. And while the emotion can linger, the Mets made the correct decision.
Verlander just completed a Cy Young season and fills a need the Mets had to be desperate to address. Now, while certainly older, having the one-two punch of Verlander and Max Scherzer gives the Mets the comfortability they need atop their starting rotation going into the 2023 season.