Houston Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow and starting pitcher Justin Verlander appear to be on the same page about wanting a contract extension.
Astros‘ pitching ace Verlander is in the last season of his seven-year $180 million contract and will become a free agent in 2020. That is unless he and Luhnow can possibly work out a contract extension and it’s sounding like they are both open to the idea.
"“We love Justin Verlander, and we traded for him for a reason, and he clearly has not declined at all. He continues to be one of the elite pitchers in the game,” Luhnow said. “Of course we would have interest in keeping him around here as long as we possibly can.”"
The subject started to gain momentum when Verlander was asked about a possible extension during the Fanfest that was held at Minute Maid Park back in mid-January. “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.”
The response from Verlander seemed to catch Luhnow off guard at the time, mentioning that was the first he had heard about his willingness to discuss extending his contract. But Luhnow did add his concerns on the situation. “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,”
It’s more like the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about, until recently. Astros’ starting pitchers Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh will become free agents after this upcoming season. Even the newly added Wade Miley was signed to a just a one-year deal. Of course Luhnow is fully aware of the situation, but as usual, he’s mum on any ongoing conversations with players.
"“As much as we had several free agents this last offseason, we’re going to have even more next season and the season after that, so it’s something we’re going to constantly have to deal with,” Luhnow said. “We’ll have those conversations at the right time with the players that have expressed an interest or may express an interest (in an extension) and those players that we want to keep around."
Gerrit Cole’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11, so there’s still time to possibly hammer out a new contract prior to the hearing. If not, hopefully it will go as smoothly and respectful as Carlos Correa‘s hearing went, and there won’t be any hard feelings. Because we all know if nothing gets done and these pitchers become free agents, the Astros will be scrambling next offseason rebuilding their rotation.