Why Justin Verlander’s looming free agency will be like no other

In most cases, calling an athlete a “unicorn” is an overused term, but in the case of Justin Verlander, it fits perfectly.

Verlander is many things. Among them: 39 years old, the undisputed ace of one of the best rotations in baseball and he will be a free agent when the season ends.

The six innings Justin Verlander spent stunning the Cleveland Guardians Thursday was more than just another six innings in the 3,118 in the Hall of Famer’s future career.

Verlander not only kept Cleveland scoreless – allowing just two hits and a walk while hitting five in 96 – but by reaching 130 innings in the seasonVerlander triggered the player option clause that gives him an exit on his $25 million deal with the Astros for 2023.

As a 39-year-old future Hall of Famer and future free agent who has had Tommy John’s surgery, Verlander is indeed a unicorn in the sport. There is no previous precedent for such a player coming to the open market.

What’s the price of a 39-year-old Justin Verlander having a career year?

If that weren’t enough, the year Verlander puts together after not courting for more than 600 days would be remarkable for a pitcher in his prime, let alone a man turning 40 before the start of next season.

Verlander is 15-3 in 20 starts and almost any number He has accumulated better than his career averages at this late stage in his career. A 1.73 ERA is almost half his career mark of 3.26, a 221 ERA+ dwarfs a career mark of 131, a 2.98 FIP is lower than a career average of 3.39, he has fewer walks , handing fewer hits and fewer home runs per 9 innings than his career averages.

The advanced metrics are good too. While Verlander was lucky enough to hit his average 95.0 MPH, four-seam fastball sitting at a -16 run stat, his slider (.205 xBA), curve (.167 xBA), and changeup ( 0.140 xBA) that he uses, a combined value of 49.6 percent of the time are at a run value of -13.

Meanwhile, his wOBA is in the top 4 percent of the league and his BB percentage is in the top 6 percent of the league, both numbers better than the season immediately before the injury and better than his career averages.

Everything works.

In short, at age 39, following Tommy John surgery, Justin Verlander has had one career year and will be a free agent by the end of the season.

if Gerrit Kohl $36 million AAV and a 38-year-old Max Scherzer is worth $43.3 million AAV, what’s Verlander’s worth on the open market after the season he’s putting together?

Nobody knows because it has never happened before.

In the off-season it becomes an intriguing case: who is paying and how much is he paying for a Verlander who has defied both the calendar and the knife and wants to keep pitching for a few more years?

How much does a unicorn cost?

https://fansided.com/2022/08/05/justin-verlander-free-agency-rumors/ Why Justin Verlander’s looming free agency will be like no other

John Verrall

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