Yankees: Justin Verlander rebuffs New York to stay in Houston

Verlander

Right-handed pitcher Justin Verlander, whose name was on the New York Yankees’ radar as they tried to improve the starting rotation with a high-ceiling addition, decided to take his talents elsewhere, away from the Bronx.

Several outlets reported on Wednesday night that the veteran righty, a multiple time Cy Young award winner, agreed to re-sign with the Houston Astros, ending the Yankees’ hopes of landing the hurler.

According to Ben Verlander (his brother) of Fox Sports, Verlander is reuniting with the franchise that helped him resurrect his career a few years ago. He was also being mentioned as a possibility to join the Detroit Tigers, where it all started for him, but will stay in Houston.

Per the terms of the deal, the Astros are going to pay their star pitcher $25 million for his services during the 2022 season. Also included is a $25 million player option for the 2023 campaign, after the player rejected Houston’s one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer.

The Yankees will need to keep looking for a top starter

Verlander would have fit in like a glove in the Yankees’ rotation if he had chosen that path, right behind Gerrit Cole, as a potent one-two punch. It wasn’t meant to be, however.

The pitcher, who is already 38 years old, is said to be willing to pitch several more seasons. He wasn’t available for Houston in 2021, as he rehabbed from Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery. However, the expectation is that he is ready to go this spring.

As for the Yankees, they still need to upgrade the rotation and bring two or three top-caliber starters, because they lost Andrew Heaney and Corey Kluber to free agency and they shouldn’t entirely trust Nestor Cortes Jr.’s breakout campaign without a backup plan.

As of now, Cole, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Cortes Jr., and Jameson Taillon (if he is ready to go by spring training) are expected to be in the rotation, but depth is thin behind them: Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and Luis Gil could be next in line.