Insider Floats Mets Blockbuster Trade Reunion With Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander

Getty Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander saw a brief stint with the New York Mets last season

After losing their first five games of the season, the New York Mets have surged back to the middle of the pack in the competitive National League East division, reigniting hopes that they can contend for a playoff spot this year.

That possibility has raised questions about how the front office might bolster the roster if they see hope for a Wild Card bid. Reflecting on that for The Athletic, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal suggested the team might seek a trade reunion with Justin Verlander, who they sent back to the Houston Astros last season while agreeing to pay a portion of the remaining salary on the deal they gave him in the winter of 2022.

“Who knows? If the Astros fail to rebound from the 7-16 start, maybe the Mets could get Verlander back,” Rosenthal wrote. “They’re already paying three-fourths of his $43.3 million salary.”

Justin Verlander Might Be One of the Few Options Available to the New York Mets

Rosenthal also noted that the Mets’ front office seems likely to pursue midseason acquisitions if the team can prove their early surge is maintainable for the rest of the season. If that’s the case, Verlander, who enjoyed a four-strikeout, 3.00 ERA debut against the Washington Nationals last week, might be one of the few premier players available.

“The bigger concern, perhaps, is the quality of players that might be available,” Rosenthal wrote. “In this era of expanded playoffs, clubs are less likely to trade off parts. And the sellers that already are obvious — the Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies and Chicago White Sox — have precious little to offer.”

The Mets signed Verlander along to pair with fellow veteran Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer to a two-year, $86.6 million deal in the 2022-23 offseason, but the team traded the pair away at last year’s deadline. 

Verlander made 16 starts for the Mets, winning six games with a 3.15 ERA, before being traded back to the Astros, where he had pitched since 2017. After the trade, he started 11 games with a 3.31 ERA.

He began this year on the injured list with a shoulder problem and, at 41 years old, there is some question about how much he has left in the tank. But he could very well become the final pitcher in MLB history to total 300 wins, and owner Steve Cohen would surely like to see him do so in a Mets jersey if possible.

Justin Verlander Could Be a Boon to the New York Mets Rotation

If Verlander’s first start is a sign of how he will perform for the rest of the season, he could be an asset to the Mets. Three of their starters — Adrian Houser, Sean Manaea and Jose Quintana — have ERAs over 3.00 across their first four starts. If Verlander is healthy, he could help eat up some innings.

Another wildcard for the Mets’ rotation, though, is the return of Kodai Senga, who is on the injured list until at least late May.

“Senga isn’t eligible to return from a shoulder injury until May 27,” Rosenthal reported. “Once he is back, the Mets again might need to go to a six-man rotation to accommodate him, but at least they would have their ace.”

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