According to MLB insider Jon Heyman, the Houston Astros certainly are no longer the favorites in the pursuit of free agent starting pitcher Justin Verlander.
Will this team pry Justin Verlander away from the Houston Astros?
In this article for The New York Post, Heyman lists the Los Angeles Dodgers as the favorite to land the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. Where is Heyman’s second-highest choice for Verlander to pitch next season? He splits it between the New York Mets and New York Yankees, with Houston not even among the top choices.
Why? According to Heyman, “…word as of midweek is the Astros and Verlander weren’t close” when it came to contract negotiations. Verlander is reportedly looking for a deal that would be similar to what Max Scherzer signed with the Mets last offseason, coming in at $130 million over three seasons.
Houston owner Jim Crane has stated that the Astros are still in discussions with Verlander, saying the 39-year-old right-hander is “still in the mix” for next season. However, with the Dodgers, Yankees, and Mets all in the mix, it could well come down to a bidding war as Verlander is unlikely to give any “hometown discount” to the franchise where he won a pair of Cy Young Awards and World Series titles.
If Verlander were to land in Los Angeles, he would be a big rotation upgrade over Tyler Anderson, who pitched well for the Dodgers last season, but bolted for the crosstown rivals Angels earlier in the offseason. A 2023 Dodgers rotation could look like Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, and Dustin May, making Los Angeles once again a heavy favorite to represent the National League in the World Series.
Verlander has never called a National League team home, only pitching for the Detroit Tigers and Astros in his 17-year MLB career. Could that change this offseason? At least one MLB insider certainly thinks that is the case.