Once I wrote three weeks in the past concerning the Dodgers trying to the free-agent market to fill their beginning pitcher wants, I targeted totally on Jacob deGrom — and for good motive. When wholesome (large qualifier), he’s the most effective pitcher within the sport by an excellent margin. Signing deGrom to a short-term, excessive common annual worth deal is correct in Andrew Friedman’s wheelhouse.
However there’s one other pitcher who additionally suits that description: Justin Verlander.
Verlander, 40 in February, is coming off a season through which he gained the American League Cy Younger Award by pitching to a 1.75 ERA, 2.49 FIP, 23.4 Ok-BB% and a 6.1 fWAR. That is outstanding for a virtually 40-year-old, but additionally a man coming off Tommy John surgical procedure that value him all however six innings from 2020-21.
Regardless of his superior (athletics-wise) age, he’s nonetheless actually good.
And the chatter across the Dodgers/Verlander is selecting up.
Verlander is projected by consultants (The Athletic, ESPN, FanGraphs, MLB Commerce Rumors) to land a deal within the 2-3 12 months vary at $40-41 million yearly. That’s fairly the dedication for a 40-year-old, not to mention a man in his conventional prime.
This isn’t the primary time Friedman has wished to do a deal like this. He gave Wealthy Hill a 3-year deal after the 2016 season at a better AAV than most anticipated ($16 million), he gave Clayton Kershaw a 3-year, $93 million extension after the 2018 season and, effectively, all of us now about that different short-term, excessive AAV deal he gave to an objectively horrible human. Regardless of the Astrosness of Verlander, at the least he doesn’t include the horrible historical past and allegations of that different man.
The curiosity is smart, on the floor. The Dodgers are reportedly bringing Kershaw again (it simply hasn’t been introduced), Julio Urias is a free agent after the 2023 season and so they’ll be with out Walker Buehler till 2024, so filling the rotation with a premium pitcher like Verlander makese sense. Nonetheless, there are a few issues to keep watch over, ought to the Dodgers signal Verlander.
The 175 innings he logged in ’22 had been the fewest since 2017 — when he cut up time with the Tigers and Astros (and no, I’m not rehashing the Yu Darvish-Verlander debate that wasn’t actually ever a debate and solely was so due to hindsight). Whereas his velocity was principally the identical as earlier than TJ, he noticed his strikeout share dip from 35.4% in 2019 “down” to 27.8 final season. It was nonetheless the Tenth-best amongst certified starters, nevertheless it was the primary time since becoming a member of the Astros that it was sub-35%. That is most likely attributable to him lacking fewer bats total — particularly together with his 4-seam fastball.
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You could possibly chalk it as much as it being his first season again from TJ, however he gained the Cy Younger, so, possibly not? However regardless of the lowered spin and talent to generate whiffs, he allowed a career-best .194 batting common towards and .285 slugging share towards on it, in order that helps clarify why it was so efficient regardless of not being the put away pitch it had been the earlier six seasons.
He made up for the dearth of strikeouts by retaining the ball within the park (6.2 HR/FB — 2nd-best of his profession) and on the bottom sufficient (37.9 GB%) to maintain the injury towards him to a minimal. His wOBA and xwOBA towards had been within the High 1% and 9%, respectively, so it wasn’t like he was getting overly fortunate. He restricted exit velocity (87.8 MPH) and was principally consistent with the remainder of his profession numbers.
There’s threat when signing any pitcher. There’s threat when signing any pitcher to a 9-figure deal. That threat is compounded while you think about mentioned pitcher being practically 40 years outdated. Whereas I’d go for
Oh, after which there’s this.
Yeah, that is going to be a factor if Verlander indicators. After which the Dodgers will signal Shohei Ohtani subsequent winter and the insufferability of Justin’s little brother may simply be an excessive amount of for Dodger followers to deal with.
Anyway, on paper, this is smart. However a variety of issues make sense on paper. I’d go together with deGrom and even Carlos Rodon over Verlander, however we’ll see what Friedman and Co., find yourself doing.