The Risks: Noah Syndergaard and Justin Verlander
The New York Mets and Houston Astros have extended qualifying offers to Syndergaard and Verlander, respectively. It is uncertain whether they will accept the salary proposals at this point. They have until Nov. 17 to decide.
Both pitchers are recovering from Tommy John surgery, and teams will be unlikely to offer them (especially Verlander, given his age) lucrative, long-term contracts. Instead, we should expect to see teams offering incentive-laden, goal-oriented arrangements to these two pitchers given the risks involved.
The qualifying offers by the Mets and Astros reflect their confidence that the two pitchers will rebound from their injuries and continue to pitch well. Syndergaard threw one inning in two games in September. Verlander held a pitching exhibition for a large number of MLB teams (including the Yankees) on Monday. It was reported that the velocity of his 25 pitches ranged between 94 and 97 MPH.
If the Yankees feel daring this offseason, they may want to take a chance on Syndergaard instead of Verlander.
Syndergaard is still relatively young and should bounce back from his surgery rather well. He has pitched effectively for the Mets in previous years, and he could be a valuable addition to the Yanks’ starting rotation.
Verlander, in contrast, is at the end of his career. He would be a considerable risk in terms of injury recovery and expected immediate performance.
Of course, the Yanks do not have an unlimited budget, and they are already carrying the enormous salaries of Giancarlo Stanton and Gerrit Cole (and eventually Aaron Judge). The team has competing needs (e.g., shortstop, center field, relief pitching, and catcher). Priorities will have to be set, and hard decisions will have to be made.
For instance, what if the overall cost of signing both Syndergaard and Verlander is significantly less than the cost of signing Ray alone to a long-term, expensive contract in terms of AAV? Should they do this?
Finally, it is hard to predict the contents of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the players and how new policies and rules will affect the free agent market and team expenditures. Even then, the Yanks are one of the highest valued sports franchises globally, and they certainly can afford to spend more money than they have in the recent past.