ASTROS HOT STOVE
Here's how the latest Justin Verlander news could heavily impact the Astros
News dropped on Thursday morning that Astros ace Justin Verlander has exercised his player option and is now a free agent.
News: Justin Verlander has officially opted out of his contract with the Astros, as expected. He’s a free agent. @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 10, 2022
The first initial thought is to assume he's considering all offers and might be on his way out of Houston, but that's not necessarily the case. Less than an hour after Verlander declined the Astros' 1-year qualifying offer last year, he agreed to a new deal with Houston.
Astros owner Jim Crane mentioned on Wednesday that the team had until 4 PM Thursday to negotiate with Verlander exclusively, which is still the case. But seeing the news first thing in the morning makes you wonder if we're past the point of him agreeing to a deal before talking with other teams.
In Verlander's World Series media session, he spoke about being a free agent last year, and how that was a cool new experience for him. But he did mention the typical free agency experience where players get “wined and dined” by teams didn't play out last year because of COVID restrictions still being an issue. It also had to feel different for JV because he was a free agent coming back from Tommy John surgery that hadn't pitched in a game in almost two years.
The point being, he may just want to enjoy the experience of being a free agent and bring the offers he receives back to Jim Crane as a negotiation tactic. But we know Jim Crane is more of a take it or leave it type of negotiator, just ask Carlos Correa.
So let's hold tight before jumping to any conclusions. It's possible we get a JV extension announced as soon as today, or Verlander could go for all the money in free agency. Hard to know at this point. Verlander probably doesn't know yet. I will say this, Crane will likely let him walk if he wants top of the market money. Let's just hope JV is being thorough, listening to all the offers, enjoys a bunch of teams courting him, and ends up signing back with Houston.