Free-agent pitcher Justin Verlander held a workout on Monday, and both New York teams reportedly had an eye on the former Houston Astros ace.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mets sent two scouts to see Verlander. He added that an executive from another team said the two-time Cy Young Award winner “looked good.”
Sherman also said that the New York Yankees had a scout in attendance as Verlander’s workout was held at a facility owned by Eric Cressey, the team’s director of player health and performance.
Verlander hasn’t pitched a full season since 2019, the last time he won the Cy Young. He pitched one game in 2020 before being shut down because of a forearm strain. The 38-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in September of that year and he missed all of 2021 while recovering.
Verlander was reportedly among the 14 free agents to receive qualifying offers before Sunday night’s deadline. The one-year qualifying contract would be worth $18.4 million. A team is entitled to draft pick compensation if a player rejects the offer and signs elsewhere.
When healthy, Verlander is one of the best pitchers in MLB. Two seasons ago, the right-hander led the league in innings pitched (223.0) and wins (21), had 300 strikeouts (12.2 per nine innings) and a 2.58 ERA. The eight-time All-Star helped lead the Astros to a World Series title in 2017, the first of his career, and another appearance in 2019.
A healthy Verlander would be a big boost to either New York team’s pitching staff.
The Yankees lacked depth in their starting rotation last season. Gerrit Cole was the team’s ace, but he fell apart late in the season, including in New York’s loss to the Boston Red Sox in the AL Wild Card Game. Behind Cole, Yankees starters failed to perform consistently.
For the Mets, pairing Verlander with Jacob deGrom would give them one of the strongest duos in baseball. DeGrom was limited to 15 starts in 2021 because of elbow issues, but he had a 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 92 innings.