Last offseason, the Mariners surprised many when it was announced that the team had signed Robbie Ray to a potential five-year deal in free agency. The reigning Cy Young winner was coming to Seattle. He didn’t have the most outstanding track record, but it was still a nice change of pace to see someone of that caliber sign in Seattle. Is there any chance they could make it back-to-back offseasons and sign another Cy Young winner in Justin Verlander?
Now, Verlander is coming to the end of one of the most remarkable careers we have seen from a pitcher and is a sure-fire selection for the Hall of Fame. He’s approaching 250 wins, has won the Cy Young three times, and after missing essentially two seasons turned back the clock a decade and dominated in 2022.
Would throwing the bag at Justin Verlander be the right call for the Mariners?
I talked a bit about DeGrom, and how I don’t think that would be a good idea for the Mariners based on his health history. I know that Verlander just missed 2020 and 2021, but that was from Tommy John, and he showed no ill effects during a remarkable 2022 when he posted career-bests in ERA and ERA+, still threw 175 innings, and led the league with a WHIP of 0.829.
Verlander is looking for a lot of money. Somewhere in the $40 AAV range. Personally, I think that is about the limit of what the Mariners could realistically spend this offseason. So it comes down to the same question with DeGrom. Would the Mariners spending only on Verlander be worth it?
They would have to make a trade to bring in a bat. Flexen for Wong or Rodgers is my preference, and you throw in a middling prospect to make it happen if necessary. Sure, the offense isn’t what you want, and would look something like this, with Moore/Haggerty/Murphy on the bench.
- Wong – 2B
- France – 1B
- Julio – CF
- Teoscar – RF
- Suarez – 3B
- Raleigh – C
- Winker – DH
- Kelenic – LF
- Crawford – SS
It’s a good lineup, but you can definitely see the need for another bat. A rotation of Verlander/Castillo/Gilbert/Ray/Kirby? Oh my. That’s got just an insane potential to crush the spirit of everyone they face this season.
Still, 3YR/120M is a lot to throw at someone who turns 40 in February. Sure, there are a handful of guys that have found true success after turning 40. That’s the thing. It’s literally a handful of guys. Verlander was one of the best in baseball at 39. Will he be at 41? At 42? can you take that risk? If you get a Cy Young worth season at 40, and even a mid-tier pitcher at 41 and 42, is it worth it?
I don’t think so. I know this probably means he will win the 2024 Cy Young and dominate during his deal, but I just don’t think the risk-reward is worth it at three seasons. Now, if the Mariners could get him for just two years, I think it would be a really fun conversation to have. From everything I’ve heard, Verlander wants three years, so I don’t think the Mariners are a fit due to the needs that they have on offense.
Getting Nimmo+Senga for $40 is way better than Verlander at the same price. If the Mariners could go that route, I think it would make them a much better team than just getting Verlander. So for now, I say that the Mariners should pass on Justin Verlander.