By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Justin Verlander reached a $25 million deal to remain with the Houston Astros as he comes back from Tommy John surgery, and Brandon Belt accepted an $18.4 million qualifying offer from the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
Verlander, a 38-year-old right-hander, has a conditional $25 million option for 2023 as part of the agreement.
He made just one start in 2020, pitching six innings on July 24 in a win over Seattle on opening day before being placed on the injured list with strained right forearm. He attempted a comeback after he was injured, but announced on Sept. 19, 2020, that he needed Tommy John surgery and underwent the procedure on Oct. 1.
Verlander, a two-time Cy Young Award winner and the 2011 AL MVP, became a free agent after completing a $94 million, three-year contract with the Astros. He said earlier this year that his rehabilitation was going well and added that he hated that he only played one game in the time that deal covered.
“That gnaws at me,” he said. “But … this was an unfortunate injury that nobody could have seen coming. But I still do like to earn my keep.”
Verlander is 226-129 with a 3.33 ERA in 16 seasons.
Belt was the only one to accept among the 14 free agents who received the offers from their former clubs on Nov. 7. Bell is 33 and perhaps wary of a free-agent market at first base that includes 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman.
Belt hit .274 with a career-high 29 home runs and 59 RBIs last season.
Players who turned down offers included Freeman (Atlanta), shortstop Carlos Correa and Verlander (Houston), right-hander Raisel Iglesias (Los Angeles Angels), AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray and second baseman/shortstop Marcus Semien (Toronto), outfielder Nick Castellanos (Cincinnati), shortstop Trevor Story (Colorado), shortstop Corey Seager and infielder/outfielder Chris Taylor (Los Angeles Dodgers) and outfielder Michael Conforto (New York Mets).
Two of the players who received offers have finalized contracts with new teams. Left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez left Boston for a $77 million, five-year contract with Detroit, and right-hander Noah Syndergaard left the Mets for a $21 million, one-year contract with the Angels.
AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken contributed to this report.
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