You’ve heard enough, right? Now you just want things to start happening. Yup, we get it. But at least the buzz surrounding the New York Yankees is trending in a positive direction.
They’re getting a high-profile shortstop. It’s just a matter of whom. It’s hard to see many fans being disappointed with the team bringing aboard any of the top options available.
The Bombers also need a first baseman and centerfielder — both important positions, but ones that can certainly be figured out more easily than addressing the starting rotation, which always feels like a challenge for this team. Who will be the guy standing next to Gerrit Cole in 2022 heading into a (hopefully) playoff series?
Justin Verlander’s name has come up an awful lot as he’s making a return from Tommy John surgery, having pitched just six innings since the start of the 2020 season (after leading the league with 223 IP in 2019). He hosted a showcase this offseason, the Yankees attended and reportedly liked what they saw.
Somehow, though, we missed this update from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale because it was buried in the middle of his most recent piece on the annual General Managers Meetings following their conclusion.
Look, we know, take everything Nightengale says with a grain of salt. He’s the jinx king, after all. And hey, maybe we should. Maybe this update means Verlander is going to sign a lifetime deal with the Boston Red Sox. But when talking about the two-time Cy Young winner, he strengthened the potential ties to New York.
Are the Yankees leading the Justin Verlander sweepstakes?
“If Verlander winds up pitching elsewhere, the Yankees are the favored destination,” Nightengale wrote.
Now, Verlander has a qualifying offer on the table from the Houston Astros worth $18.4 million for the 2022 season, but earlier reports suggested the right-hander thinks he can beat that number. He would have to reject before this Friday’s deadline. But at this point, it feels like that was nothing but a formality for Houston to recoup a compensatory draft pick rather than outright lose Verlander.
Why? Because right before Nightengale mentioned the above quote, he revealed this:
“[Verlander] also knows it could be a bit uncomfortable returning to Houston. The Astros players revolted when Verlander was scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during the postseason, telling owner Jim Crane they preferred someone else considering Verlander had not been around all season.”
That is … something! Astros players “revolting” against a guy who brought them a World Series, won a Cy Young, finished runner up in the 2018 race, led the league in strikeouts once and WHIP twice? You’d be out to if that was the reaction from your teammates, wouldn’t you?
And since Nightengale didn’t provide a reason as to why the Yankees would be the frontrunners outside of Houston, assuming Verlander rejects the QO, we’ll chalk it up to the fact they’re going to be the ones offering the most money.
Some rumors have suggested this could be a two-year, $40 million contract. Sure! If you’re Verlander, entering your age-39 season, you probably take that to play for a World Series contender that, on paper, will probably have the best roster in the American League when Opening Day arrives.
Intriguing, optimistic updates. Certainly feels good. Just not going to believe anything until it’s signed, sealed and delivered.