HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher Justin Verlander said during the team's FanFest on Saturday at Minute Maid Park that he'd be open to talking to the club about a contract extension. Verlander, a free agent at season's end, said the subject hasn't come up from either side."To be honest, the topic
HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher Justin Verlander said during the team's FanFest on Saturday at Minute Maid Park that he'd be open to talking to the club about a contract extension. Verlander, a free agent at season's end, said the subject hasn't come up from either side.
"To be honest, the topic hasn't even been breached," Verlander said. "I don't know what their organizational plans are. It's something I wouldn't be opposed to. It would be a conversation. That bridge will be crossed whenever. I haven't brought it up to them nor have they to me. We'll see what happens."
Verlander, 35, is in the final year of a deal that will pay him $28 million in 2019, $8 million of which is being paid by the Tigers, who traded him to Houston on Aug. 31, 2017. In '13, Verlander agreed to a seven-year, $180 million contract extension with Detroit. He had a vesting option for '20 that was voided as part of the trade.
"I don't talk about when or how or any of that stuff, but with Verlander and [Gerrit] Cole both becoming free agents after next year, at some point we're going to have to either try and sign them or deal with the consequences of them leaving," Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said.
The way he's performed in Houston, Verlander could be poised for another huge contract after this season. He's coming off one of his best seasons of his career, going 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP, 26 quality starts and an American League-leading 290 strikeouts in 214 innings. He finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting for the third time in his career.
"It's a kick in the butt to be so close so many times, and obviously I'm working toward a legacy that I want in the game," Verlander said. "I definitely want to win another one, but to have the year I did, have the body of work I did, that's most important when you look at the end goal: to be out there, to log innings, to spend your time on the mound and win ballgames for your team. Ultimately, at the end of my career when I look back, those are the things I'm most proud of."
Verlander looks around at the current state of the free-agent market and says changes need to be made to prevent the recent trend of top free agents being left unsigned into the new year. Two of his key 2017 World Series championship teammates -- Dallas Keuchel and Marwin Gonzalez -- are among a large group of free agents who are looking for work two weeks prior to the start of Spring Training.
"I think things need to change," Verlander said. "What those things are -- our Players Association talked about some pretty interesting topics we can adjust to make the game competitive. That's the biggest detriment to our game right now -- the non-competitiveness of two-thirds of the league. I think that's why you're seeing free agents not being signed. Teams are trying to wait for their window to go for it, but you can't always patch together the right piece through trades or whatever."
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Verlander has made nearly $200 million in his career. He has won a World Series title and he became a new father in November. He has a strong Hall of Fame resume, but he's not satisfied. Verlander said on Saturday that he's chasing a legacy, and he hinted that he could play for another 10 years.
"It wasn't too long ago I was worried about the end of my career coming," Verlander said. "I worked my [butt off] to be able to do this and stay healthy and be strong at this age. There's a lot of things I've sacrificed to do that. That drive to want to be one of the best and play until I'm 45, all those things, that's the motivating factor."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow <ahref="http: twitter.com/brianmctaggart"="">@brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.</ahref="http:>