Houston Astros spice up American League playoff race by re-acquiring Justin Verlander

Tyson Shushkewich
11 months ago
The Justin Verlander show is coming back to Houston. Jeff Passan at ESPN has reported that the New York Mets will be sending Verlander to the Houston Astros with top prospects Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford heading to New York in exchange.
Verlander has been one of the most dominant pitchers on the planet dating back to 2006, as the right-hander has amassed a career 3.24 ERA through 498 starts while striking out 3279 batters while suiting up for the Detroit Tigers, the Astros, and most recently with the Mets. Verlander signed a two-year, $86.6 million dollar deal with the Mets this past offseason that included a no-trade clause, meaning the Old Dominion product signed off on this most recent deal just hours before the 6:00 pm EST deadline (somewhat similar to his original trade to Houston back in 2017).
This season, Verlander has made 16 starts and has pitched to a 3.15 ERA through 94.1 innings for a struggling Mets squad. His 7.7 K/9 is on track to be on the lower side in recent memory but the 40-year-old is still going strong, authoring a 3.81 FIP to go along with his 1.145 WHIP. Verlander started the season on the IL with a low-grade teres major strain and didn’t make his Mets debut until early May. A three-time Cy Young winner and a World Series champion with the Astros back in 2017 and 2022, Verlander will be a major presence for a Houston squad that is looking to dethrone the Texas Rangers from the top spot in the AL West.

Houston Astros acquire Justin Verlander from the New York Mets

Highlighting the trade to the Mets is Drew Gilbert, who was the Astros’ first-round selection last summer out of the University of Tennessee and was the organization’s top-ranked prospect prior to the deal. After starting out well in High-A to begin the year, Gilbert has spent the majority of the campaign in Double-A, where he currently owns a .241/.342/.371 slash line with 11 doubles, six home runs, and a .713 OPS through 224 at-bats. Blessed with an arm that can play in any outfield position, Gilbert is a contact first-type hitter with average power and excellent strike zone awareness (33 walks compared to 46 strikeouts this year in Corpus Christi), although he can put the barrel to the ball at times and has produced some high-exit velocities recently that have stayed in the park. Gilbert is ranked #68 on the top 100 prospect list via MLB Pipeline.
Heading out east as well is fourth-ranked top prospect Ryan Clifford, who was an eleventh-round pick of the Astros last year as well. Similar to Gilbert although down one level, the lefty-batter impressed early in Single-A and was moved to High-A after just 25 games. In Asheville, Clifford has amassed a .271 average and a .903 OPS with 16 home runs and 46 RBIs through 214 at-bats. Scouts praise his bat speed and repeatable swing in the batter’s box and recently has been getting some reps at first base as well as in the corner outfield spots.
Overall, this trade is pretty big for both sides, as the Astros get a veteran arm that has done wonders already for the organization in recent history while the Mets get some top prospect capital in return amidst a down campaign (and likely aren’t done yet).


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