HOUSTON -- The Astros’ contract with veteran right-handed pitcher Justin Verlander has been made official. Verlander signed a one-year contract for 2022 with a player option for ’23 to return to the Astros on Dec. 1, prior to the expiration of the current CBA.
After working with the MLB Players Association, the Commissioner’s Office approved the deal on Monday, returning Verlander to the team he’s pitched for since coming to Houston in a trade with the Tigers in August 2017. The deal is worth $25 million for each season, a source told MLB.com. The club has not confirmed the value of the contract.
Verlander, 38, has recovered after missing the entire 2021 season following Tommy John surgery that was performed on Sept. 30, 2020. Verlander started on Opening Day of the pandemic-shortened ’20 season and injured his forearm. He rehabbed the injury throughout the summer and suffered a setback late in the regular season, just prior to perhaps getting back into a game.
In 2019, his last full, healthy season, Verlander enjoyed one of the best years of his career en route to his second Cy Young Award. He made 34 starts and went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP in 223 innings. He threw his third career no-hitter and reached 3,000 career strikeouts, while whiffing 300 in a season for the first time.
“The last season I was healthy, I won the Cy Young,” Verlander said in May. “Anything on top of that is gravy. I definitely think I can get back to the pitcher that I was [in 2019], at the least.”
Verlander is attempting to become the 10th known pitcher to come back from Tommy John surgery after undergoing the procedure at 37 years of age or older. He will turn 39 in February and has said repeatedly he wants to pitch until he’s 45 years old. The contract was first reported as agreed to on Nov. 17, when Justin’s brother, Ben, was the first to tweet about a deal being reached.
The addition of Verlander bolsters a strong Astros rotation that includes right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., who had the best season of his career in ’21, and lefty Framber Valdez. Luis Garcia, who finished second in the ’21 AL Rookie of the Year voting, and fellow young right-handers José Urquidy and Cristian Javier join veteran Jake Odorizzi as rotation options for Houston in ’22.