Here's why the Astros should think long and hard about trading for Justin Verlander
Sports fans are a nostalgic bunch. Take a look through social media posts. The debates are endless about what teams, players, eras, or what have you are the best or are better than others. The eventual “Mount Rushmore” posts will appear asking for the four best in any given category. You'll also see tons of posts and comments about what players they want to bring back to their franchises. Whenever players leave, via trade or free agency, and there's a chance for them to come back, fans will clamor for a reunion.
After last season's World Series win, people thought Jim Crane had to keep the entire band together. General Manager James Click was not retained, and ace of the pitching staff Justin Verlander signed with the Mets. Click was eventually replaced by Dana Brown. Verlander was replaced by other guys who were on the come up. Framber Valdez has stepped up as the new ace. Luis Garcia is out for the season. Jose Urquidy is trying to come back from injury. J.P. France has been a revelation. But have any of these guys truly replaced Verlander?
Simple answer: no. You don't “replace” a Verlander. You can only hope to fill his shoes enough that you don't trip over yourself walking in them. While the Astros have done an admirable job, his spot in the rotation has been missed. Injuries have compounded his absence. Garcia and Urquidy both went down early. While Hunter Brown and France have stepped up, they aren't the sure thing taking the bump every five or six days. Verlander is a future Hall of Famer, who at 40 years old, is still on top of his game.
So is a reunion even possible? I'd say yes. The Mets are currently almost 20 games back in their division race and almost 10 back in the Wildcard race. While they've held on as long as they could, the smoke signals have been sent about them being sellers at the deadline. The Astros are fighting to take over their division and are in control of a Wildcard spot. The price tag for Verlander may not be as bad as one would think. The Mets would have to agree to pay some of his remaining salary, but the Astros wouldn't necessarily have to give up too many high level pieces. The more the Mets want to get rid of most of his salary, the less they may ask for in return.
This reunion makes sense for both sides. The Astros need another arm to help secure their fifth World Series appearance in seven years. Verlander wants the best chance to win and continue to cement his legacy, while chasing some career milestones. Crane wanted Verlander back after last season, but the price tag was too much for him. Could a lower salary and a moderate trade package make a reunion more likely for Crane? I think so. It's a matter of what it'll cost. He has Brown manning the ship now. Brown is the kind of guy that'll make the smart move (like re-signing young guys early to team friendly deals), but he was Crane's pick as Click's replacement because he will make the splash deal like Crane wants. Could this be his first splash deal? Or will Verlander have to rot in the Big Apple, knowing he picked the wrong team?