There will be no better show to watch this Major League Baseball offseason than Justin Verlander's free agency process. The former face of the Detroit Tigers turned Houston Astro ace is hitting the free agent market for the first real time in his career. While he did sign a one-year deal with the Astros after Tommy John Surgery. All he did in that one-year deal is make himself a ton of money this offseason, competing with only Jacob deGrom as the top pitcher on the market. According to SNY New York,
Signing Justin Verlander to a high AAV contract like Max Scherzer's has been floating around the organization “for months” and remains a topic of discussionvia SNY New York on Twitter
Justin Verlander's free agency built on a strong 2022 performance
When you're 39 years old, as Verlander is, you are expected to barely be able to get the ball across the plate and maybe only be a serviceable back end of the rotation starter. But Verlander, in 2022, flipped that script on its head. In his 17th MLB season, Verlander posted a 4.1 fWAR to go along with a gaudy 26.6% strikeout rate, an 18-4 record, 1.75 ERA, and a 2.49 FIP. He is the front-runner for the AL Cy Young award and should cash in nicely during this free agency period.
Verlander's expected salary and comparison
Due to his performance in 2022, Verlander will have suitors lined up in this offseason. In fact, even the Tigers can't be completely shut out of the discussion–though it is highly unlikely. Verlander is hitting the open market due to opting out of his $25 million contract with the Astros early this offseason. Spotrac places his market value at $45.3 million per year. That's where the discussion about a high Average Annual Average (AAV) comes into play with multiple GMs around the league.
This type of high AAV is akin to the type of deal Max Scherzer signed with the New York Mets this past offseason to the tune of 3 years at $130 million. JV's performance this season has definitely set him up to cash in big time with a team that is getting, not a guy on the downturn, but a consistent top-of-the-rotation ace who can lead a club. He'd be a “get” in free agency for any team that is able to ink him to the best deal.