Last month, the Houston Astros were reportedly in agreement on a two-year contract with free agent starting pitcher Justin Verlander. The contract entailed $25 million for 2022 and a player option for 2023 worth $25 million, as well, if the right-hander pitches more than 130 innings in 2022.
The signing never became official by the time the lockout was implemented a few weeks later, which left the Astros’ 40-man roster at 39 spots filled. Rumors circled on a delayed physical and agreement with Verlander overseas on vacation, but the recent Cy Young winner’s deal became official on Monday in the midst of the lockout.
Justin Verlander’s signing with the Astros has become official during the lockout, but how?
On Monday, Buster Olney of ESPN reported that Verlander’s signing had been given legal approval by Major League Baseball, “even at a time when the owners have locked out the players in the on-going labor battle.”
MLB and the Player’s Union worked through the final details, according to Olney. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic also reported that “the holdup regarded language in his contract, and that issue has now been resolved, even with the lockout in progress.”
The commissioner’s office approved the signing, after both sides worked with the Union to finalize the contract during the lockout. It is an unorthodox report, while both players and teams cannot work out major-league contracts during a time without a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Fans worried about whether Verlander would stay “Loyal to the Soil,” after his contract didn’t become official before the lockout was implemented. It was reported a “mystery” by Jon Heyman of MLB Network and then “elementary” by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, but at the end of the day, the signing is now official, and the Astros’ 40-man roster is full.
Alex Bregman has shown excitement on social media with the deal becoming official, while the Astros will have to wait to share the signing since they can’t include current major-leaguers in their social media posts.