Astros: Justin Verlander open to contract extension

codypoage
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 03: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches in the fourth inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 3, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 03: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches in the fourth inning of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 3, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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The Astros have obviously benefitted from Justin Verlander since his arrival. It would honestly be a disappointment to see him leave following the 2019 season.

While the Astros are prime for another run in 2019, Saturday’s FanFest saw a few questions about the club’s direction beyond next season. One particular topic of interest was Justin Verlander‘s contract, which is set to expire following the 2019 season. However, the club’s ace does sound open to the idea of staying beyond this year.

The soon-to-be 36-year old starter just had another successful season in 2018, finishing with a 2.52 ERA in 214 innings. He also led the American League in strikeouts with 290 and placed second in the league’s Cy Young voting. While the club didn’t capture another World Series title last year, they are in prime position to make another title run in 2019. The Astros are set to pay Verlander $20 million this season with the Tigers covering the remaining $8 million on his salary. All in all, $20 million well spent for a baseball team.

That said, Verlander is surely going to attract plenty of attention when he enters free agency next offseason. Although he’ll be inching closer to his age-37 season by that point, other clubs have also seen the former Tiger turn back the clock in Houston. In some ways, he is even better than he was during certain seasons in Detroit. If he does enter free agency, look for clubs like the Dodgers, Cubs, and other contenders, including the Astros, to show plenty of interest.

While it is unknown how the Astros want to proceed with Verlander, and possibly Gerrit Cole, long-term, I’d like to think the club is willing to spend money to preserve the top half of their starting rotation. The question is whether the two sides can reach an agreement, which is far easier said than done. As quoted by MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart here, general manager Jeff Luhnow makes it known that the Astros have a couple of important decisions to make regarding the top half of the rotation:

"“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."

Next. Astros: Las Vegas oddsmakers have Houston on top in 2019. dark

The cold reality is this for the Astros: Sign Verlander and Cole to new long-term contracts by utilizing plenty of future payroll flexibility, or let both pitchers walk and somehow find a new direction for the rotation in 2020. It is hard to believe, but the Astros could only have Lance McCullers Jr. remaining from their vaunted 2018 rotation in 2020. Life can come at you fast.

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