The Yankees may be in the market for a top-tier starting pitcher this off-season, especially with superstar slugger Aaron Judge wanting the team he signs with to continue adding pieces to the equation. Instead of acquiring players on 7–8 year contracts, the Yankees might be willing to spend more for a few years, which is exactly where Justin Verlander comes into play.
Verlander is 39 years old and coming off a Cy Young winning season, but given his age, he’s trying to cash in one last time before experiencing significant regression. Following Tommy John surgery, Verlander pitched 175 innings in 2022, earning a 1.75 ERA, 3.23 xFIP, 9.51 strikeouts per nine, and an 80.5% left-on-base rate. He struggled during the playoffs, essentially running out of gas, but he was stout during the regular season and proved he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
It was previously reported that Verlander was looking for a Max Scherzer type of deal, which would pay him over $100 million in a three-year span, and it seems as if those demands haven’t dissipated.
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According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, Verlander is seeking a deal in the 3-year, $130 million range, which would pay him $43.3 million per season.
“Word is, the Astros and Justin Verlander are “far apart” in talks. Verlander seeks $130 million for three years, and the Astros, with their deep rotation, seem pessimistic on Verlander, which may open things up for the Dodgers, Mets and Yankees.”
The Yankees will need to be willing to splash the cash:
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner may be keen on an aggressive approach this free agency, but allocating $43.3 million to Verlander might be above his price range. In fact, it is hard to believe that he will garner a contract of that magnitude, especially with the Houston Astros not willing to go that far into their checkbook to retain his services.
If Verlander would settle for around $35 million, the Yankees would likely make a serious push to land him, but it’s hard to imagine any teams willing to give him that type of money at 39 years old. There’s a better argument to make that Jacob deGrom is well worth that financial commitment, given his 34, despite his injury issues the past few seasons.
Nonetheless, at that price target, I highly doubt the Yankees are seriously interested, but if that number begins to drop and becomes more reasonable, I wouldn’t be surprised if general manager Brian Cashman made a stab at landing the Cy Young Award winner this year.