Does Astros Trade For Justin Verlander Make Them World Series Favorites?

The MLB trade deadline was largely uneventful. However, the day did provide us with one stunner that captured the headlines, and for good reason.

The New York Mets, who are in the middle of one of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory, traded away their ace pitcher Justin Verlander. 

The shocking part of the news wasn’t the fact that they traded him, it was where they traded him. He’s heading back to Houston where he will attempt to win his third World Series with the Astros.

Justin’s brother, Ben, had a hilarious on-air reaction to the breaking news…

In exchange for the reigning American League Cy Young Award, the Astros sent their top prospect, outfielder Drew Gilbert, to the Mets, along with minor league outfielder Ryan Clifford.

Clifford, an impressive 11th-round draft pick from last year, is ranked fourth in the Astros system after a standout performance in High-A.

Verlander, who turned 40, showcased his incredible talent and determination by returning from Tommy John surgery to capture his third Cy Young Award while with the Astros in 2022. He then played a pivotal role in leading the team to its second World Series title in six years.

Despite his achievements, the Astros chose not to aggressively pursue a reunion with Verlander during the offseason, instead opting to rely on their young and deep rotation. This led to Verlander signing a lucrative two-year, $86.7 million deal with the Mets.

One factor that deterred other teams from pursuing Verlander was a $35 million option for 2025 that vests if he accumulates at least 140 innings in 2024. However, the Mets will pay a significant portion of the remaining contract, easing the Astros decision to trade their prospects.

Astros owner Jim Crane expressed his satisfaction with the deal, stating: “[General manager Dana Brown] and his team worked on it hard. After we looked at the numbers – it’s always tough to give up prospects, but I think they determined that it was the right move. We needed starting pitching. He’s been throwing well. And I think the other factor is they ate a lot of the contract. So it wasn’t a really hard decision. It was just would we give up enough prospects?”

Verlander’s strong relationship with Crane played a significant role in the trade, as he held a full no-trade clause. Despite interest from other teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Verlander’s trust in the Astros organization led to the reunion.

The Mets underperformance this season triggered a surprising sell-off, resulting in high-profile players like Max Scherzer, David Robertson, and Mark Canha departing the team.

On the other hand, the Astros, who are in the thick of the playoff race, were in dire need of starting pitching after losing Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia for the season.

Astros manager Dusty Baker was thrilled about Verlander’s return, saying: “It improves my heart’s function, you know what I mean? And for a guy who’s had a stroke, heart function is very, very important. And that does my heart well.”

Verlander has shown a resurgence after a slow start to the season, boasting an impressive 1.49 ERA in his past seven starts. His hot streak indicates that he still has plenty to offer on the mound, especially back in his familiar stomping grounds. 

The reunion marks a significant moment for the Astros, who initially acquired Verlander from the Detroit Tigers in a late-August trade in 2017, just two months before the franchise’s tainted championship win, marred by the sign-stealing scandal.

Verlander became a cornerstone player for the Astros, contributing mightily to their dominant standing in the baseball world. 

What do you think of the Astros once again acquiring Verlander?

Do you think he has enough in the tank to push them over the top and win yet another World Series?