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A source from the Los Angeles Angels indicates where former Astros pitcher Justin Verlander may end up singing as a free agent this offseason.
“Verlander and Syndergaard, those are names that are going to go this week,” MLB insider Jeff Passan said on the Talkin’ Yanks podcast on Nov. 15.
Passan was right: Noah Syndergaard didn’t even last a few hours. Later on Tuesday afternoon, Syndergaard signed a one-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
It’s not as if the Angels wouldn’t have preferred other options to Syndergaard: one Angels exec even referred to the deal as “ludicrous.” The coveted free agent pitcher has only thrown two innings in the past two seasons coming off Tommy John surgery, and he’s only expected to throw for 125 innings next year.
Why pay a premium for Syndergaard rather than someone else? The answer lies with competing free agent expectations, and in Verlander’s case, desired destinations.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal mentioned that Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray and Kevin Gausman may want more money over a longer term, but that wasn’t the case with Verlander.
According to Rosenthal, “club officials fear, according to one source, that Justin Verlander is more inclined to sign with an east-coast team or the Tigers than one in the west.”
Justin Verlander free agency rumors: Detroit and East coast
And where might that ultimate free agency destination be?
Many are positing that it would be New York, as MLB insiders like Passan believe the 38-year-old pitcher could go to the New York Yankees.
“I may be getting lied to, but I think Verlander ends up in a larger market with a team that is potentially near and dear to your heart,” Passan told Talkin’ Yanks.
“Verlander is a power pitcher. He’s a guy who has premium stuff. Scouts who saw him at his showcase walked away saying, ‘Yeah, the s*** is still there.’ That’s the guy that you could slot in at the top of your rotation and feel a lot more comfortable than you did with Corey Kluber there at the beginning of last year.”
But the Syndergaard deal could have spelled trouble for the Yankees, who will now be expected to pay even more for a more experienced and older Verlander. FanSided’s Adam Weinrib believes that with Syndergaard cementing a value, Verlander couldn’t possibly go for less. The projected deal could cost the Yankees $45 million for two years, and even that would be light.
With Syndergaard out of the picture and Angels sources saying they were getting East Coast vibes, Verlander may be getting close to inking a deal with an Eastern team within the coming days.