Free agent SP Justin Verlander has signed a one-year contract with the Houston Astros, according to Fox 26’s Mark Berman. The deal is for $25 million and has a player option for a second season.
Despite throwing just six innings since the end of the 2019 season, Verlander is arguably the best starting pitcher of this century. Since 2000, no starter has compiled more Baseball-Reference WAR than Verlander’s 72.2, which is more than three wins better than the No. 2 pitcher on the list, Clayton Kershaw at 69.0. He’s won three Cy Young Awards, an MVP and a World Series. Among all active pitchers, Verlander ranks first in wins (226) and second in strikeouts (3,013) and innings pitched (2,988). The Future Hall of Famer has simply accomplished just about everything possible for an MLB pitcher.
So what does the 39-year-old have left in his right arm? By the time Verlander steps on a mound in 2022, he will not have thrown a pitch in a meaningful game in more than 20 months, dating back to when he underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2020. However, after hitting 97 mph on the radar gun during a November showcase with between 15-20 teams watching, Verlander’s arm seems to have significant life left in it. And he seems determined to prove that he can regain the form of just a couple of years ago, when he was one of the best pitchers in the sport.