Yankees could pursue star pitcher Justin Verlander’s signature once again in free agency

Alexander Wilson
justin verlander, yankees, mets
Oct 19, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) reacts after striking out Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (not pictured) to end the sixth inning in game one of the ALCS for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If the New York Yankees want to put themselves in a position to win the World Series in 2023, securing the best starting pitching rotation in baseball might be a good place to start. Of course, their attention is currently focused on Aaron Judge and retaining him for the future, but they have a special opportunity to build out a roster that is strong on all fronts.

The team has plenty of youth rising through the system, with Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe expected to make an impact in 2023 and beyond. They also have super utilityman Oswaldo Cabrera, so reliance on youth will allow the Yankees to spend more elsewhere, notably on pitchers like Justin Verlander.

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General manager Brian Cashman tried to secure the signature of Verlander last off-season, but he ended up signing a two-year, $50 million deal with a 2023 player option to stay in Houston. The 39-year-old pitcher is expected to opt out, looking for more money and more years, which the Yankees might be willing to offer.

The Yankees don’t necessarily like their chances at signing Verlander again, but if he ends up hitting the free-agent market, they should give it their best to go, considering he’s coming off a Cy Young-caliber season.

They may try again, assuming Verlander opts out, but they don’t necessarily like their chances.

Per Jon Heyman of the New York Post

The Yankees could land a superstar in Justin Verlander, completing their rotation:

Verlander finished with a 1.75 ERA, 3.23 xFIP, 9.51 strikeouts per nine, an 80.5% left-on-base rate, and a 38% ground ball rate. In fact, he produced his best HR/FB ratio at 6.2% since his 2010 season.

The veteran starter is more than capable of dominating with a high strike-out percentage, but it seems as if his location got even better. His velocity averaged out at 95.1 mph with his fastball, his highest since the 2018 campaign, suggesting Father Time hasn’t taken its toll just yet.

With the season he just experienced, offering him another two-year, $60 million deal with a player option for the 2024 season may be attractive. However, I wouldn’t expect the Houston Astros to let him walk seamlessly, considering he makes up a significant portion of their starting rotation. They have plenty of money to spend, given the youth they utilize across the board, so spending on Verlander is an easy decision.