Analysis

Could Justin Verlander be a Yankee?

The New York Yankees may have a very active offseason, and someone who’s on their radar is former Cy Young and MVP Justin Verlander.

Many baseball fans are preparing for a work stoppage, but before the December 1 deadline, teams are free to make moves as they wish. With one big name flying off the board already in Noah Syndergaard (who went to the Angels on a one-year, $21 million deal), this has to make you wonder if other pitchers will try and secure a new contract before a potential lockout goes into effect. Among those names is former Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander, and among those interested are the New York Yankees.

Is Verlander Healthy?

Verlander missed most of 2020 and all of 2021 with Tommy John Surgery. However, the workhorse recently threw the ball at a showcase and looks ready to sign with a new team. Although signing someone who’s 38 and coming off one of the biggest injuries a pitcher can have is concerning, we’re also talking about a pitcher who is known for eating innings. Verlander has surpassed 200 innings — a rare feat in today’s sport — in every season since 2016. In his last full season in 2019, Verlander made 34 starts, pitching to a 2.58 ERA and striking out 300 men in 223.0 innings, leading to a Cy Young victory.

What Will he Get?

Although Verlander hasn’t pitched in two seasons, it’s still likely Verlander will command a hefty price tag. It’s been speculated that he will get a multiyear deal, albeit a short one, for about $40 million, or $20 million a year. As I said, it’s more than reasonable to be cautious when giving someone in their late 30’s a multiyear contract with an AAV of $20 million, but you also gotta consider that we’re talking about a pitcher who has the potential to really make an impact if he comes back healthy.

Where Would the Yankees Slot him In?

To begin the season, Verlander would probably be the Yankees’ Number 2 starter behind Ace Gerrit Cole. After that, the rotation shapes up to be Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, and Jameson Taillon. Obviously, there are in-house options that can get a fair share of starts, too, like Luis Gil and Nestor Cortes Jr. It’s also worth noting that the Yankees, if they feel the need to, can add yet another arm in addition to Verlander. Perhaps a pitcher who flies under the radar like a Jon Gray.

Either way, it seems like Verlander’s market is really heating up, so we should have an answer to these questions sooner rather than later. However, if the Yankees are able to reel in yet another former-Astros pitcher and have a busy offseason, he would be a big addition and a strong piece in what could be a very good rotation in 2022.

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