The Los Angeles Dodgers in an early rotation need free agency, and if they have their sights on Justin Verlander, they’ll likely have to offer a contract to a similar powerhouse they got last winter.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has already watched Tyler Anderson reject the qualifying offer of $19.65 million for 2023 and quickly agreed to a $39 million deal over three years with the Los Angeles Angels. The Dodgers were reportedly not willing to extend their offer to Anderson’s third year, which was ultimately a deciding factor in losing a key piece in their rotation.
Meanwhile, Verlander won his third Cy Young Award in unanimous fashion, and after being selected for the final year of his contract with the Houston Astros, he’s now on the open market.
Astros owner Jim Crane has hinted that Verlander still wants similar pay to the contract Max Scherzer signed him with the New York Mets, via Brian McTaggart of MLB.com:
Crane said Verlander is seeking a similar deal for Max Scherzer, who signed a three-year, $130 million contract with the Mets a year ago. Crane said he hoped the absence of a state income tax in Texas would give the Astros an advantage.
The 39-year-old went 18-4 with an MLB-best 1.75 ERA, 2.49 FIP and 0.83 WHIP in 175 innings pitched, while striking out 175 strikeouts over 28 starts.
A three-year deal for Verlander would propel him into his 43rd season at the end of the decade, but the Dodgers’ willingness to pursue short-term high-mid annual value deals could make this an attractive option. The club’s current payroll flexibility makes it a serious player in any free agent pool.
Verlander negotiated his most recent contract with the Astros, dating back to the 2017 mid-season trade deadline, and there was a common interest in getting him out of the West to the Dodgers.
The Dodgers attempted to sign Justin Verlander after the 2021 season
Before he eventually signed with the Astros last season on a one-year deal after Tommy John surgery, Verlander drew significant interest from the Dodgers and several others after a stellar performance at a pitching show.
Now that he has another year under his belt and more equipment in this case, Verlander has all the negotiating power he needs to cash in on his next deal.
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