SAN DIEGO – Over a long and outstanding American League career, Justin Verlander has both dazzled and tormented the New York Yankees.
On Monday morning, the Hall-of-Fame bound starter landed with the New York Mets.
“Wow,’’ said Yankees manager Aaron Boone, reacting to the two-year, $86.66 million guaranteed contract the right-hander signed as a free agent.
“I mean, the year he just put together, at his age, and obviously coming back from missing the last couple of years (is) really impressive,’’ Boone said. After missing virtually all of the past two seasons due to recovery from Tommy John surgery, Verlander captured his third AL Cy Young award and helped the Houston Astros to their second world championship.
VERLANDER: Winners and losers stemming from Verlander’s two-year deal
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“The Mets got a lot better today,’’ Boone said.
“Losing Jacob (deGrom) and bringing in Verlander to pair at the top with (Max) Scherzer – definitely guys with some age on them, but guys who are still doing it on a very high level.’’
Earlier Monday, Astros manager Dusty Baker didn’t want to say much until the deal was official.
“You know how much I like the guy and how I feel about him,” said Baker, adding that Verlander was “awesome” to manage.
“I told him when the season started (that) I’ve never managed a Cy Young Award winner,” said Baker. “And so at the end of the year, when he got his Cy Young, he said, ‘Now you’ve got one.’
“And he’s a pleasure to manage because I knew what I was getting every day. He’s probably gotten a little more humility since he got hurt and was out, and you appreciate what you have now.”
And there’s another reason Baker enjoyed giving the ball to Verlander every fifth day.
“I love it when I can go full bullpen the day before he pitches, full bullpen the day after he pitches. And then he would stop all losing streaks and prolong winning streaks.”
Meanwhile, new Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy is thrilled with his club’s recent signing of deGrom from the Mets.
“We mean business right now,” said Bochy, adding that “we’re in the process of building a winning culture in Texas… and he was excited to listen to what we had to offer.”
And Texas’ winning offer of $185 million over five years carried the day. Meanwhile, Verlander’s annual average salary – in his age 40 season – of $43.33 million matches Scherzer’s record-setting amount from last winter.