13. Justin Verlander, starting pitcher, New York Mets/Houston Astros (following trade)
The 2022 Cy Young Award winner when he helped pitch the Houston Astros to a World Series victory over Philadelphia, Verlander had an 18-4 regular season with a league-leading 1.75 ERA in 28 starts.
Those numbers made it easy for the Mets to look past his age (40) and sign Verlander to a contract that could pay the pitcher as much as $121.3 million through 2025.
But age is undefeated, as Verlander and the Mets are both finding out. This season he has only a 5-5 record in 15 starts encompassing fewer than 90 innings to date. Not all of the problem is Verlander – his 3.24 ERA remains credible and he’s gotten less than four runs of support in his 15 appearances.
Injuries have also been a factor. Verlander missed the season’s first five weeks with a muscle strain into the second week of May. Those things happen when you hit 40, but they have certainly cut into Verlander’s value.
They have not, however, cut into the $43.3 million he is owed by the Mets this season. In fact Verlander joins teammate Max Scherzer as the best-paid pitcher in the game in 2023.
For that money, the Mets had a right to expect the game’s best pitcher in2021 and 2022 to also be the game’s best pitcher in 2023, or at least close to it. That’s what they haven’t gotten. Verlander’s 1.9 WAR ties for 35th among the 128 qualifying starters, a good performance but one that falls well short of meriting $43.3 million. In fact based on the average WAR of the starter group, it merits less than half that amount, just $18.456 million.
To date, then, the Mets have overpaid Verlander to the tune of $24.877 million.