Steve Cohen’s personal touch made sure Justin Verlander didn’t get away

SAN DIEGO — Steve Cohen’s Mets — and they’re now his team — had to make sure this time around. After watching all-time cameo player Jacob deGrom bring more fortune to Texas, Cohen wasn’t going to let go of three-time Cy Young winner and surefire Hall of Famer Justin Verlander. And that’s a great thing.

With deGrom gone, the Mets would certainly have to sign Verlander or Carlos Rodon, the only pitchers on the market who can replicate deGrom’s expected production (when he pitches), and Rodon’s list of interested teams is right seemed endless with the timeline to come. Cohen wasn’t taking any chances. He gave it to Verlander almost the same annual salary his former Tigers teammate Max Scherzer ($43 million, or just $35,000 less). And he threw in some personal treatment.

Even with deGrom still on the board, Cohen told People he was “seduced” by Verlander, whose 1.75 ERA was the best in baseball in 2022 and who, as a bonus, brings a lot of attitude and moxie to The Big Apple. After deGrom’s disappointing performance, it’s no surprise that Cohen was more involved in this recruitment, and he turned to the greats as always to acquire a pitcher who wasn’t looking to get away.

Hit him with Cohen as he did with Scherzer last year in the now popular Zoom call, Cohen is said to have found Verlander too “approachable,” though with $17 billion in the bank, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are within reach. Scherzer has a big arm and a big gut, and that’s what matters.

Cohen decides to spend his spoils to win, and that’s the most important thing for the Mets, who have gone from their middle-market personas to the biggest spenders in baseball. This is the second straight year they’ve received an offer from the Dodgers for the future Hall of Famer, as LA moved for both Scherzer and Verlander.

Justin Verlander, 35th overall pick of the Houston Astros, reacts
Justin Verlander joined the Mets on a two-year, $86 million deal.
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The discrepancy this time was not so great — LA’s exact offer is unknown; they offered Scherzer $70 million over two years last year — but you also have to understand that the Mets are a much more attractive place a year after being a 101-win team and a perennial contender. Other team managers joke that the Mets’ rotation is almost AARP-friendly, but the truth is it’s the right deal for them now. And 39 is the new 34, at least in Verlander’s case.

If Cohen wants to achieve his goal of winning a World Series within five years of buying the team, he’s only three years away, and putting together great starters is certainly one of the best ways to go. You can joke all you want about his age, but Verlander was the best pitcher in baseball through the 2022 season, then refused to re-sign the Yankees with the Astros.

Several scouts expressed concern about Verlander 2022 postseason average (2-0, 5.35 ERA in four starts), and one person connected to the Astros even suggested the team “carry Verlander” in October and November. But the truth is that Verlander’s overall record shows him to be an all-time great, and his postseason resume (16-11, 3.64 ERA in 35 games, 34 starts) is better than good.

New York Mets owner Stephen A. Cohen speaks at the unveiling of the Tom Seaver statue
Even before Jacob deGrom decided to leave town, Steve Cohen had his eye on Justin Verlander.
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The Mets really had little choice. There are no established aces on the trade market for starting pitchers, and they were concerned that Rodon, who is 30 years old and has a lower annual cost, would take some time to sign. Leaving Verlander as an open call.

The Yankees didn’t offer Verlander this time, but all are in the Rodon market, which includes plenty of big-market suspects — the Dodgers, Giants, Rangers — as well as smaller-market hopefuls like the Orioles and Twins. Verlander was the guy for the Mets because they wanted a big man and needed someone now.

The reigning Astros, who won two championships with Verlander, were only on the sidelines this time because they were so rich in pitching and Christian Javier, who had the lowest batting average in baseball, filled their rotation last year. barely clicked. The Mets were pretty comfortable, with Chris Bassitt and Tyjuan Walker free agents, deGrom a Ranger, and Scherzer, Carlos Carrasco and possibly David Peterson remaining in the three-man rotation.

DeGrom’s suspension was met with no objections that warranted further action. But Cohen seemed to have some regrets about it The loss of deGromhe was the performer to watch back then when he got to the mound.

Cohen seemed to question whether the Mets had been aggressive enough in their pursuit of the hometown prodigy. It is more likely that the Mets’ offer for deGrom was closer to $110 million than the $120 million originally reported, so they spent $75 million more than Texas (and deGrom got an even bigger deal) due to Texas’ tax situation. taking into account).

Cohen didn’t like losing a great game. That’s why he may have been more involved in his pursuit of Verlander. And why the Mets are suddenly the big bullies on the block. It’s a nice change to be more than just Kings of Queens.

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