How are former Astros top prospects from Justin Verlander trade doing with the Mets?

While some Astros fans are feeling bummed about the Verlander trade right now, it isn't like the Mets are feeling great at the moment, either.
Washington Nationals v New York Mets
Washington Nationals v New York Mets / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages
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Given that Justin Verlander is already dealing with his second different injury of the 2024 season at the moment, Houston Astros fans may be feeling a bit of buyer's remorse at the moment. There is always a risk in acquiring any pitcher (especially older ones), even when they have the track record that Verlander has, but it took Houston sending two of their top prospects in Ryan Clifford and Drew Gilbert to bring Verlander back. Now, that loss of depth is feeling particularly bad.

A closer look at the trade yields a more complex situation. If Gilbert and Clifford were absolutely raking with the Mets during Verlander's time away from the field, that would be one thing. However, that isn't exactly how things have played out which, for the moment, should help soothe any concerns about the deal in the short term.

Despite Verlander's injury, trading Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford for him still looks like a smart move for Astros

Just to be clear, Gilbert and Clifford didn't become less talented once they left the Astros. Houston knew they were paying a high price to bring back a generational pitcher in Verlander, and there is still a good chance that at least one of these guys is going to make the Astros wish that they held on to them. After all, they picked and developed those guys for good reasons.

That said, the early returns for the Mets in this deal, especially since they ate some of Verlander's salary, haven't been the greatest. Starting with Drew Gilbert, he hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire after the trade. He played exceedingly well last year in Double-A in the Mets' system with a .984 OPS after the move, but Triple-A has given him significantly more trouble, resulting in a .240/.321/.360 line in just seven games. Yup, he has also been out with a hamstring injury since April.

The news on Clifford is arguably more grim. While Clifford hasn't been hurt like Gilbert has, he has really struggled in the Mets' minor league system. He posted a mediocre .683 OPS in 2023 after the trade and, in 2024, his .188/.304/.389 leaves a lot to be desired and his hit tool is getting exposed as the strikeouts rack up, although he is showing some good pop here and there.

Will both of these guys continue to struggle like this? Probably not, but this is your reminder that nothing is certain with prospects, and trades can look very different in just a matter of months. It still would be great if Verlander could actually get healthy, though.

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