Ace Justin Verlander Returns to the Houston Astros

Posted on: August 1, 2023, 03:40h. 

Last updated on: August 1, 2023, 03:59h.

The Houston Astros acquired three-time CY Young Award winner Justin Verlander in a trade with the New York Mets, which marked one of the biggest transactions leading up to the Tuesday evening MLB trade deadline.

Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander, seen here pitching for the New York Mets, will return to the Houston Astros after his former team acquired him at the trade deadline. (Image: AP)

Verlander returns to the Astros after spending a short stint with the Mets this season.

The Astros will send the Mets outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford to complete the Verlander trade. Gilbert is considered the Astros’ top minor-league prospect, and Clifford is ranked #4 in their farm system.

Several teams were interested in adding Verlander in a trade, including the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, and Tampa Bay Rays. In the end, the Astros out-bid all of Verlander’s suitors.

What Fire Sale in Queens?

The Mets had one of the highest payrolls in baseball but vastly underperformed with a 50-55 record. They are in fourth place in the NL East and six games out of the NL wild card, which has a super tight race with seven teams ahead of the Mets fighting for three spots.

Instead of being a buyer at the trade deadline and missing the postseason with a futile effort in August and September, team owner and renowned hedge fund manager Steve Cohen knew his best move was to sell his highest-valued assets.

Mets general manager Billy Eppler comically told reporters that the Mets weren’t having a fire sale after he traded closer David Robertson to the Miami Marlins last week, and traded pitcher Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers this weekend.

I do want to be clear that it’s not a rebuild,” said Eppler. “It’s not a fire sale. It’s not a liquidation. This is just a repurposing of Steve’s investment in the club, and kind of shifting that investment from the team into the organization.”

The Mets traded outfielder Mark Canha to the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.

After Eppler denied a fire sale, fans assumed the Mets would keep Verlander and rebuild a team around him next season, but even the right-handed star wasn’t off limits.

With a few hours remaining before the trade deadline ends at 6 p.m. ET, fans cannot help but wonder if any other players on the Mets will get traded like outfielder Tommy Pham and pitcher Jose Quintana.

In the last 24 hours, word got out that the Mets entertained trade discussions involving slugger Pete Alonso. When the Mets didn’t field any lucrative trade offers for Alonso, they pulled the former home-run king off the trading block.

Verlander Returns to Houston

Verlander, 40, spent six seasons with the Astros and led them to two World Series championships in 2017 and 2022. He won the Cy Young for the third time in his career last season with the Astros. In 2022, Verlander posted an 18-4 record in 28 starts with a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. He also whiffed 185 batters.

Verlander signed a two-year contract with the Mets this past offseason worth $86.7 million. In 16 starts with the Mets this season, Verlander went 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

Verlander had a rough June. He went 0-2, and the Mets were 1-4 in his five starts. He bounced back with a strong July. The Mets were 5-1 in his six starts in July, and he posted a 4-1 record with one no-decision.

In his last three starts, Verlander went a perfect 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA. Opponents were hitting just .167 against him over the last 37-plus innings. On Sunday against the Nationals, Verlander notched his 250th career victory.

Betting the Astros Post-Verlander Trade

The Astros are bringing Verlander back to assist in their title defense. With a 60-47 record, the Astros are currently in second place in the AL West.

The Astros have the fourth-best record in the AL, and with 60 wins, they’re the sixth-best team in the MLB. If the season ended today, the Astros would secure one of three AL wild-card berths.

The Astros are in a tight race to win the AL West and are just a half-game behind the first-place Texas Rangers (60-46). The Rangers recently acquired Scherzer, Verlander’s teammate and good friend, in an attempt to improve their postseason chances.

The Astros are +700 odds to win the 2023 World Series and secure rare back-to-back titles. They’re the third-highest team on DraftKings’ futures board behind the Atlanta Braves (+330) and Los Angeles Dodgers (+500).

According to the latest postseason projection by FanGraphs, the Astros have an 11.7% chance to win the World Series. It’s the highest number in the AL, and the third highest overall trailing the Braves (23.8%) and Dodgers (13.1%).

The Astros are the betting favorite to win the AL West at -130 odds. The Rangers are +150 odds to win the division. The Astros have a 58.1% chance to win the AL West, and the Rangers have a 33.9% chance according to FanGraphs.

In AL pennant futures, the Astros are the new betting favorite at +340 odds, and the Tampa Bay Rays are right behind them at +350 odds. Rounding out the top five are the Baltimore Orioles (+500), Texas Rangers (+600), and Toronto Blue Jays (+700).