The Astros are close to a two-year, $66 million extension with right-handed starting pitcher Justin Verlander, according to a report Friday night from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand:
According to sources, Justin Verlander and the Astros are moving toward a deal on an extension. It’s believed to be a two-year deal in the $66M range.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) March 23, 2019
Verlander appears primed to become the latest in a string of notable players who have signed contract extensions with their current teams since spring training began, perhaps in reaction to the harsh and slow-moving free-agent market that has existed for the last three offseasons. He joins Aaron Nola, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Luis Severino, Aaron Hicks, Nolan Arenado, Mike Trout, Blake Snell, Brandon Lowe, Ryan Pressly, Alex Bregman, Eloy Jimenez, Paul Goldschmidt, and Chris Sale as guys who have re-upped for multiple years with their teams, though with Verlander being the oldest of the group — he turned 36 last month — he also receives the shortest extension of the group. That’s perhaps by his own choosing if he’s planning on retiring after the 2021 season.
Verlander, who won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2006, was also the AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP in 2011 and is a seven-time All-Star. While that résumé may lead you to believe that he’s past his prime, he remains tremendously effective; he finished second in AL Cy Young voting (and 10th in MVP voting) while posting a 2.52 ERA and majors-best 0.90 WHIP with an AL-best 290 strikeouts and only 37 walks.
The new deal will give Verlander the third-highest AAV among major-league starting pitchers (following Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke) next year, as well as the fifth-highest overall after factoring in Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado. It also could put the Astros pretty tightly up against the luxury-tax threshold in 2020; Verlander will be the fifth Astros player to be guaranteed a nine-figure salary for next year, joining Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, and Bregman. Pressly and Yuli Gurriel are also set to earn eight-plus million, and Carlos Correa figures to earn a salary somewhere in that area in his second arbitration year.