Justin Verlander Rumors: Dodgers’ Interest; Vesting Option Complicating Trade Talks

The New York Mets were lauded for building a starting rotation headlined by Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, but now may find themselves without either pitcher past the MLB trade deadline at 3 p.m. PT on August 1.

After sending David Robertson to the Miami Marlins, the Mets traded Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers for Luisangel Acuña, a top-100 prospect. The Mets also agreed to pay more than $35 million of Scherzer’s remaining salary, and he exercised a player option for 2024.

That then shifted more attention onto Verlander, who backed off his stance about adamantly wanting to remain with the Mets this season. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros have been among the teams connected to a potential Verlander trade.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, there is a sentiment the Dodgers will trade for Verlander:

The buzz around the Dodgers and Verlander among scouts is growing louder.

However, whether the Dodgers or another club, Andy Martino of SNY has noted the 2025 vesting option on Verlander’s contract is proving to be somewhat problematic:

With just over 30 hours to go before the trade deadline, the Mets are not deep in talks with any team about Justin Verlander — but are still listening. One of the primary roadblocks to a deal is Verlander’s vesting option for 2025, according to multiple MLB team executives involved in discussions.

The Mets signed Verlander to a two-year, $86.66 million contract in December 2022. Verlander’s vesting player option for 2025 is valued at $35 million.

The 2025 option will vest if Verlander pitches 140 innings during the 2024 season.

The 40-year-old is at 94.1 innings over 16 starts this year. After struggling to begin his Mets career, Verlander has been improved since the end of June.

Over his last seven starts, the right-hander is 4-1 with a 1.49 ERA and held opponents to a .178/.269/.230 batting line while collecting 37 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched.

Dodgers’ interest in Justin Verlander

The Dodgers have long held interest in Verlander, including at the 2017 trade deadline when he ultimately wound up with the Houston Astros and L.A. acquired Yu Darvish.

The Dodgers reportedly had interest in Verlander as a free agent after the 2021 season as well, but he re-signed with the Astros.

When Verlander reached free agency again this past winter, the Dodgers were aggressive in pursuing Verlander but it’s believed their contract offer including deferred salary was a factor in the Mets winning out.

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