"I plan to pitch into my mid-40s": These Teams Have Justin Verlander On Their Radar


Remember this guy? Justin Verlander is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and former MVP, just two years removed from a 21-win season and his 2nd Cy. This offseason, he is set to hit the free agent market, where he could be had for the taking. 

But there's a caveat here: Verlander is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2020. Only 1% of the more than 2,000 pitchers who've had TJ surgery have been at least 37 years old, and only two of those were starters, neither of whom were able to come back to their original effectiveness. 

But then again, none of them could boast the talents or résumé of Justin Verlander. And as he has said himself, "I plan to pitch into my mid-40s." Given that, these teams are expected to have him on their radar:

1. Houston Astros

Will the Astros bring back the soon-to-be 39-year-old? Houston has said that they will "probably" extend him a qualifying offer (of about $19M), the first step to indicating their interest in bringing him back. Then it's up to Verlander to decide whether to accept. 

Verlander has never been a free agent in his illustrious 16-year career, after spending the first 12 1/2 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, then getting traded to the Astros in 2017 and claiming his first World Series ring. 

2. Chicago Cubs

According to Cubs Insider, the Windy City was actually Verlander's choice of destination during the trade deadline sweepstakes of 2017. But the Cubs never held serious talks with the Tigers, something that Cubs GM Jed Hoyer has since publicly regretted

That's the same Jed Hoyer who also trashed this season's Cubs rotation, so it wouldn't surprise many if he came calling on Verlander this time around on a short-term deal to help lead the Cubs back to respectability. 

Former Cubs pitchers, and now broadcasters, Sean Marshall and Ryan Dempster said as much recently“I think he’s gonna have plenty left in the tank coming off that Tommy John surgery, just enough to kind of bring that winning vibe, that winning culture, back here to the North Side,” said Marshall.

3. New York Yankees

Ah yes, what big-name, big-money free agent pitcher speculation would be complete without the Yankees in the picture? The Yanks, of course, need help in the rotation. And this wouldn't be the first time they've taken a flier on a former high-end starter coming off serious injury: 

GM Brian Cashman signed Corey Kluber to a 1-year, $11M contract prior to the 2021 season, after missing much of 2019 and 2020 to injuries. Yes, he did battle injuries for about half of the season in '21, but he did pitch relatively well when he did take the mound. Verlander will cost a lot more than $11M, but don't put it past the Yankees to take another shot with a finely-aged veteran, this time one of the greatest pitchers of his generation. 

4. Detroit Tigers

Naturally, the Tigers are going to be in the discussion. Verlander spent the first dozen-plus years of his career in Detroit, winning a Rookie of the Year, a Cy Young, six All-Star berths, and the hearts of Motown fans. 

But the Tigers are a very young team, looking to add young talent that's on the rise. It remains to be seen if they're ready to mix an emotional reunion with a great of the past into the equation.

Photo Credit: Mandi Wright via Imagn Content Services, LLC