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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Justin Verlander Latest Deal in MLB Pitching Contract Craze

  • Verlander's new Mets contract has the second-largest AAV ($43M) in MLB history.
  • That trails only new teammate Max Scherzer ($43.3M).
Justin Verlander speaking to media during a 2022 World Series press conference
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The allure of having elite starting pitching has MLB teams trending towards giving out unprecedented salaries.

On Monday, RHP Justin Verlander agreed to a two-year, $86 million contract with the New York Mets, per Jeff Passan.

Assuming the numbers are accurate, the $43 million average annual value is the second-highest in MLB history — trailing only the three-year, $130 million ($43.3M AAV) deal the Mets signed Max Scherzer to last December.

In fact, the four largest AAVs in MLB history have all been given out in the last three years — and all have gone to elite starting pitchers.

On Friday, the Texas Rangers made a splash by signing Jacob deGrom away from the Mets on a five-year, $185 million ($37M AAV) pact. In 2019, the New York Yankees locked up Gerrit Cole with a nine-year, $324 million ($36M AAV) contract.

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At this point, Verlander — a three-time Cy Young winner — is used to the big bucks: The 39-year-old has earned almost $300 million throughout his career and has never signed a contract with an AAV lower than $25 million since clearing arbitration in 2013.

The Mets will be spending $120 million on Verlander, Scherzer, and Francisco Lindor’s contracts alone — already over 50% of this season’s $233-million luxury tax threshold. New York’s tax payroll for its projected Opening Day roster currently stands at $287 million.

Verlander’s arrival in New York will also be a reunion of sorts: He and Scherzer formed the core of the Detroit Tigers’ rotation when both were there from 2010 through 2014.

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