By JAY COHEN
AP Baseball Writer
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Justin Verlander agreed to an $86.7 million, two-year contract with the New York Mets on Monday, reuniting the AL Cy Young Award winner with Max Scherzer and giving the team a high-profile replacement for Jacob deGrom.
The contract is worth $43,333,333 per season and includes a vesting player option for 2025 at $35 million, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no immediate announcement.
Verlander, who turns 40 in February, leaves World Series champion Houston to step in for deGrom, who left New York after nine seasons when he agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract with Texas last week. It also puts Verlander on the same team as Scherzer after they played together with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-14.
Depending on the final details, it appears Verlander’s deal matches Scherzer’s for baseball’s record for highest average annual salary. Scherzer finalized a $130 million, three-year deal with New York a year ago.
Mets general manager Billy Eppler declined to confirm the Verlander move, but he said the team was working on its pitching plans.
“If we are able to add an impact pitcher or a couple of impact pitchers, that would be helpful,” he said.
“I mean, in general, you’re going to try to navigate a 162-game season, you’re going to use, no matter what, a lot of starters to do that. So depth is very important.”
Verlander’s storied career was in question after he had Tommy John surgery in 2020. But he made an impressive return this season, becoming the 11th player to win the Cy Young Award at least three times.
Verlander went 18-4 with a major league-low 1.75 ERA in 28 starts for the Astros. He also got his first career World Series win in Game 5 as Houston beat Philadelphia in six games.
The right-hander declined a $25 million option five days after helping the Astros to the franchise’s second championship, making him a free agent.
The nine-time All-Star broke into the majors with Detroit in 2005 and stayed with the Tigers until he was traded to the Astros in August 2017. He won his first Cy Young Award in 2011 and also took home AL MVP honors after going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA in 34 starts.
Verlander agreed to a $66 million contract with Houston covering 2020 and 2021, then hurt his elbow. After pitching one game over the previous two seasons, Verlander became a free agent and re-signed with the Astros for a $25 million, one-year deal that included the option.
Verlander is 244-133 with a 3.24 ERA and 3,198 strikeouts in 17 seasons. He also won the 2019 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 34 starts.
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