Dodgers Free Agency Rumors: Justin Verlander Contract Offer Included Deferred Salary

The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the offseason with a significant need in their starting rotation as Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney became free agents.

The team re-signed Kershaw to a one-year deal, but they also watched Anderson join the Los Angeles Angels and Heaney sign with the Texas Rangers. The Dodgers were finally able to add another piece to their rotation this week as they reportedly signed Noah Syndergaard to a one-year contract.

But entering the offseason, Justin Verlander was said to be their top target as he was looking to sign a short-term deal with a high average annual value, which fit what they were looking to do. According to Jack Harris of the L.A. Times, the Dodgers offered Verlander a two-year contract that included deferred salary:

They offered Verlander two years and $80 million guaranteed with a significant amount of money deferred, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

Verlander ultimately received a two-year deal worth $86.66 million, which tied him with his new teammate Max Scherzer at a $43.3 million AAV, the top mark in MLB.

At one point early in the process, the Dodgers were considered the favorites to sign Verlander, and that offer would have likely beaten out most interested teams. They also had a meeting with him on Zoom that “went well,” and they planned to speak with his agent during the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

However, Mets owner Steve Cohen has been free-spending this offseason and they were aggressive in going after Verlander to replace their former ace Jacob deGrom, who signed a massive contract of his own with the Rangers.

The 39-year-old Verlander missed all of 2021 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he returned in 2022 to post one of the best seasons of his career. He finished 18-4 with an MLB-best 1.75 ERA, 2.49 FIP and 0.83 WHIP across 175 innings pitched.

Verlander’s work on the mound also led him to him winning the American League Cy Young and Comeback Player of the Year Awards.

Dodgers trade for J.P. Feyereisen

The Dodgers traded Minor League pitcher Jeff Belge to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for J.P. Feyereisen, who is facing a prolonged recovery following surgery to repair his right rotator cuff and labrum.

The right-hander likely won’t return to the mound until late 2023, but given the nature of shoulder surgeries, it wouldn’t be surprising if he doesn’t pitch until 2024. Thus, the trade was a low-risk, high-upside play as he is under team control through 2026 via salary arbitration.

The 29-year-old went 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA over 24.1 innings in 22 games this past season in a breakout fueled by cutting his walk rate from 13.5% and 14.1% in his first two seasons to 5.8% this year while also increasing his strikeout rate to 29.1% from 22.6%.

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