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Ranking Justin Verlander’s free agency landing spots, including Astros return and Gerrit Cole reunion

Ranking Justin Verlander's free agency landing spots, including Astros return and Gerrit Cole reunion

Justin Verlander will likely win his third career Cy Young Award on Wednesday night after a season that saw him post a career-best 220 ERA+ in 28 starts. Verlander, who put forth that effort as a member of the Houston Astros, just so happens to be a free agent now. Tomorrow’s price, you can rest assured, is not the same as today’s price.

Of course, Verlander was already slated to be one of the winter’s most sought-after free agents in our estimation. CBS Sports recently ranked him as the sixth best free agent in the class, and the second best pitcher, writing the following:

Verlander had a most remarkable season. Remember back in the spring, when it was unclear how well or how much he’d pitch after missing most of the last two seasons because of Tommy John surgery? He put those concerns out to pasture in a hurry, starting 27 times and performing well enough to compete for a third career Cy Young Award. And he did this at a time when he’s nearing his 40th birthday. Verlander has lived a charmed life in many respects, no doubt, but it’s admirable that he’s maintained this kind of work ethic and passion for the game despite having accomplished almost everything that a pitcher can accomplish. He could’ve walked away and waited on his call from Cooperstown. That he instead put in the effort to come back this good is an impressive feat, and one that helps to explain the success he’s had throughout his career. He declined a one-year option worth $25 million. He should net more money.

In anticipation of Verlander’s latest accomplishment, we figured we’d do the thankless work of ranking his possible landing spots. (You could argue it’s also pointless work, but we’re in favor of whatever keeps the existential dread at bay.) Anyway, this exercise is, as always, highly subjective and for entertainment purposes only. Keep that in mind should you feel your blood pressure tick up while reading. With all the necessary couching and caveating out of the way, let’s get to it.

Tier 1: Listing them because we have to

30. Oakland Athletics

29. Pittsburgh Pirates

28. Miami Marlins

27. Cleveland Guardians

26. Colorado Rockies

25. Washington Nationals

24. Milwaukee Brewers

23. Kansas City Royals

22. Cincinnati Reds

21. Arizona Diamondbacks

20. Minnesota Twins

Verlander is presumably looking for an AAV valued at more than $40 million, similar to the deal Max Scherzer signed last winter with the New York Mets. Can you even…

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