Top 20 free agents & where they’ll sign part 1
By Neil Raymond
7. Justin Verlander, SP
3 years/$120 million with the Houston Astros
Justin Verlander has been nothing short of amazing in 2022: 5.8 WAR, 18-4 1.75 ERA/2.49 FIP 9.5 K/9 1.5 BB/9. 39 year olds don’t pitch like this, and he’ll actually be 40 years old next season. Is it crazy to expect Verlander to look for a multi-year deal? Why not? He wants to pitch until he’s 45, so cashing in for as many years as possible makes sense. Three seems the most that I could see anyone offering him however.
Are there any red flags with Verlander? As great as he’s been in 2022, one has to wonder if he can really keep pitching at this level the older that he gets. There is simply no real precedent to being this good for so long, and one has to wonder at which point nature will simply take its course. A decline might not seem likely now, but give it a year or two and it could hit him hard.
There is also the fact that only contending teams will be interested in this type of risky contract. Any of the contending teams can reasonably be expected to make a run at him, but I suspect that he’ll choose to stay comfortably in Houston, who I assume will prioritize bringing him back despite his poor performance in the playoffs.
Justin Verlander is going to be one of the most interesting free agents out there and his contract will be one of the more intriguing ones to follow.
8. Jacob deGrom, SP
4 years/$160 million with the New York Mets
Jacob deGrom is going to be one of the most sought after starting pitchers on the free agent market. deGrom is easily in the top five at the position, with only his health being the biggest red flag when it comes to what can be expected from him going forward.
Jacob deGrom’s health will be a major concern as he hasn’t pitched a full season’s workload of innings since 2019. He also missed significant time with injuries over the last few years, including the first half of 2022. I’m sure that deGrom is healthy now, and will likely push that narrative in order to get as many years as possible. Four years seems to be the limit however in my opinion.
deGrom does have some good stats to point interested suitors to however: 3.08 ERA/2.13 FIP in 11 games and 64.1 innings in 2022. He also had a remarkable 14.1 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9. He also has a track record of being considered the best starting pitcher in the game. A resume like that is sure to have enough interested teams to push the contract length and value forward.
Jacob deGrom will start next season at 34 years old, but will turn 35 prior to the All-Star break, and will be 39 by the end of his projected contract. That’s definitely going to be a factor in the bidding, but ultimately not enough to keep him cashing in pretty significantly in the end. He has a QO attached, but it don’t affect him.
Who will sign Jacob deGrom? My guess is that he will end up staying with the New York Mets. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where their owner Steve Cohen doesn’t land an ace, and keeping deGrom is likely to be a priority for him. I think that he stays with his current club.