Justin Verlander, New York Mets
Mets owner Steve Cohen and general manager Billy Eppler coughed up a nifty $43.333 million to watch Verlander pitch for them this season. It was exactly one-half of a two-year, $86.666 million deal Verlander signed over the winter.
That deal was part of a larger spending binge that saw the Mets (operating on the fantasy that you can buy a pennant) blow their payroll to $330.6 million, up $74 million from last season and $135 million from 2021.
It’s not that Verlander was especially bad. He started 16 games, went 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA and averaged six innings per start, all reasonable for a 40-year-old. But it also was not the Cy Young caliber performance Verlander had delivered one season earlier.
By the August trade deadline, with the Mets below .500 and languishing in fourth place, there was really no point in keeping as expensive a trinket as Verlander. So the Mets shipped him back to Houston, where he played a supporting role in that team’s securing a postseason spot. So Verlander will pitch in October … just not for the team that signed him.
The numbers on him, a +2.2 WAR and 1.3 Win Probability Added, were OK but nothing special. A good comparable to Verlander’s Mets WAR was teammate Jeff McNeil, who nobody in their right mind would think of paying $43.3 million for one season. Transactional grade: C-