Mets trade Verlander back to Astros

Mets trade Verlander back to Astros

Justin Verlander is back in Houston.

The New York Mets traded the three-time Cy Young Award winner to the Astros, where he pitched from 2017-2022, in exchange for outfield prospects Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford, the teams announced.

Back where he belongs. pic.twitter.com/XYYTC92t93

— Houston Astros (@astros) August 1, 2023

The Mets also sent cash to Houston. That money will cover a large portion of what remains on Verlander’s contract.

The Mets are paying $35M on Verlander for this year and next year, then half of the $35M in 2025 if the option triggers. #Astros

— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 1, 2023

Verlander waived his no-trade clause to facilitate the deal, per Heyman.

The Astros originally acquired Verlander from the Detroit Tigers at the 2017 waiver deadline. He led the franchise to a pair of World Series titles during his five-year tenure with the franchise and won two Cy Young Awards, including last year’s AL honor after returning from Tommy John surgery.

The Mets lured the 40-year-old to Flushing on the heels of his Cy Young win with a two-year, $86.66-million deal this offseason. His contract also contains a $35-million player option that will be triggered if Verlander pitches 140 innings in 2024 and passes medical tests on his right arm.

Verlander and Max Scherzer, formerly teammates in Detroit, were expected to lead the veteran Mets club back to the World Series in 2023. Instead, the team flamed out and ended up as expensive sellers at this year’s deadline. The star pitchers followed David Robertson and Mark Canha out the door, with more Mets players expected to be dealt before the 6 p.m. ET deadline.

Scherzer was traded to the Texas Rangers on Sunday with the Mets paying down a portion of his contract. The next day, Verlander admitted that the deal had him rethinking his commitment to the franchise.

Verlander made just 16 starts in a Mets uniform, posting a 3.15 ERA and 3.81 FIP with 81 strikeouts in that span. He’s coming off a stellar July in which he went 4-1 with a 1.69 ERA and 1.02 WHIP during six starts.

He now rejoins an Astros squad that was looking for a reliable top-tier starter to fill the hole created by his own departure. Verlander will slot in above Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, J.P. France, and rookie Hunter Brown in the rotation, with Jose Urquidy set to return from the IL this weekend.

The 60-47 Astros enter play Tuesday a half-game back of Texas in the AL West. Houston has reached the ALCS in each of the last six seasons. The club is attempting to win its third straight AL pennant and repeat as World Series champion.

Gilbert, perhaps the biggest piece of the Mets’ return, was Houston’s first-round pick (28th overall) out of Tennessee in 2022 and was ranked as their No. 1 prospect by MLB.com before the trade. The 22-year-old has progressed through the minors quickly, hitting .274/.363/.458 with 12 homers, 38 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases in 81 total games between the two levels.

Clifford, 20, was ranked as the Astros’ No. 4 prospect prior to the trade. The North Carolina native owns a .291/.399/.520 slash line with 18 homers and 61 RBIs in 83 total games split between Single-A Fayetteville and High-A Asheville. Clifford has some versatility, starting games at corner outfield spots as well as first base and DH this year.

The Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, and Los Angeles Dodgers were all connected to Verlander this week before he was traded to Houston.

Houston designated infielder Joe Perez for assignment to open a 40-man roster spot for Verlander.

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