“Rumors about LAD grow louder”…250-win ace, final destination Hollywood?

The trade deadline is just one day and one night away. What color will Justin Verlander (40, New York Mets) be wearing in two days?

The right-hander started the 2023 MLB regular-season opener against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field in New York City on Aug. 31, allowing one run on five hits and one walk while striking out five in 5 1/3 innings. Behind Verlander’s strong performance, the Mets won 5-2, and Verlander improved to 6-5 on the season.

250 career wins. Despite becoming the 49th pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history to reach the milestone, Verlander’s face was not a happy one after the win, as he had been the subject of trade rumors for days. Despite the win, the Mets remain in fourth place in the National League East with a 50-55 record. Their chances of winning a championship this season have been dashed.

In response, the Mets traded another ace, Max Scherzer, to the Texas Rangers a day earlier. In exchange, they received prospect Luis Angel Acuña, a future powerhouse, with significant salary relief. Already, the team’s closer, David Robertson, was traded before Scherzer.

That leaves Verlander. At $43.33 million per year, Verlander is the highest-paid closer in the league, along with Scherzer. The Mets will likely want to unload Scherzer, just as they unloaded Verlander. And there are plenty of teams looking for him. The Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Dodgers are among the teams that have inquired about trading for Verlander, according to MLB Trade Rumors.메이저사이트

The price is not expected to be low. “Teams that were looking for salary relief from the Mets, like the Scherzer trade, have found that the Mets value Verlander differently,” said Andy Martino, a Mets reporter for SNY in New York City. “To get salary relief in a Verlander trade, you have to ask for a higher-value prospect.” Acuña’s prospect ranking is 44th in MLB, which means he’d have to be worth more than that.

If the Mets’ demands are that high, it narrows it down to one destination. With only one top-100 prospect each, Houston and the Astros can’t match the Mets’ demands. Instead, the Dodgers, who have a whopping eight, can.

“The Dodgers’ deep prospect pool makes them a more desirable trade partner than Houston, Verlander’s hometown team,” said Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. “Verlander has a full club trade veto, meaning he can choose his next team. He turned down a two-year, $80 million offer from the Dodgers last winter to sign a two-year, $86.6 million deal with the Mets.” However, the Dodgers’ postseason aspirations this season and beyond could be an incentive for Verlander, as it was for Scherzer to agree to the Texas trade. A key variable would be whether his wife, model Kate Upton, would agree to leave New York after just eight months, though Los Angeles, California, home to Hollywood, would be a more attractive option for the family than Houston, Texas.

“The buzz surrounding the Dodgers and Verlander is growing among scouts,” Rosenthal said, “and while the Dodgers may be uncomfortable with Verlander’s $35 million guaranteed option in 2025 at age 42 if he pitches more than 140 innings next season, it seems like a good fit.” Just as the Mets added $36 million in guaranteed money to the Scherzer trade, they should be able to handle the financial burden of the Verlander contract.

Verlander’s record this season is 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA, which would make him a one-two punch with Clayton Kershaw if he were to join the Dodgers. The problem, as Rosenthal analyzes, is the future. His ERA is excellent, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio is just 20.9%. That’s down from last year (27.8%), when he won his third Cy Young Award, and certainly down from 2018 (34.8%) and 2019 (35.4%), his second best years, when he won his second Cy Young Award. His walk rate, which has hovered around 4-5% each year, is up to 8.2% this year.

It’s a lot of pressure for the Dodgers, but it’s also the biggest starting pitching trade of the offseason. They need to address the Mets’ high needs while minimizing their financial burden and prospect expenditures. This is the biggest challenge facing Dodgers president Andrew Friedman.

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