Chicago Cubs Rumors: Examining Justin Verlander's projected contract
Oft-rumored Chicago Cubs' target in the past, Justin Verlander, was the talk of Major League Baseball on Wednesday night. After a dominant season in which he recorded a career-best 1.75 ERA, Verlander earned his second World Series ring with the Houston Astros. Now, after notching his 3rd career Cy Young award, the veteran ace hits the free agent market looking for a substantial payday. Multiple teams are prepared to be in the mix. However, glancing over the projected contract that Verlander is seeking makes things a little more tricky.
At 3 years and a projected 130MM, you can see why some teams, such as the Cubs, might be skeptical to acquire his services. Very similar to Max Scherzer's contract, Verlander is looking to land in the 40MM AAV realm. One glaring difference between the two is age. Scherzer was 37 when he inked his 3-year deal. Verlander will be 40 by the time the 2023 campaign starts. He is the true definition of high risk, high reward for whichever team signs him this offseason.
What does that mean for the Cubs, exactly? For starters, you could worry that he is only one year removed from Tommy John surgery. On the flip side of that, he had a league-leading 1.75 ERA over 175 innings of work. So you can forget that he even had Tommy John surgery in the first place, considering he didn't have any setbacks to worry about moving forward. Another argument is, at age 40, how much does he really have left in the tank?
The Cubs can definitely pull it off if they wish to. From a financial standpoint, they can absolutely afford a 40.0MM AAV contract for the next three years. Especially considering Jason Heyward's contract will be another 22.0MM off the books starting in 2024, it really makes sense for the Cubs to go for a massive splash if they can. The team has openly stated they want to compete next year. We all want the Cubs to compete. It's up to the Cubs' front office to roll the dice.
There is no reason for the Chicago Cubs not to pursue Justin Verlander.
For only three years, if Verlander went downhill this season, the Cubs still have so much revenue to spend right now that they could work around a lack of production or an injury. Long term, you're not locked into a contract that cripples your organization for years to come. It checks all the boxes from a "spending intelligently" standpoint. My biggest concern with Verlander is the age factor and how much longer he'll be able to put up these elite numbers.
Even still, sometimes you have to go for it. You can't always wait for things to fall into your lap and luckily work out on their own. Go out there, attempt to make the team substantially better, and if those players fail, at least the incentive to do great things was there and the front office can't be blamed for it. For example, bringing in Corey Kluber, hoping he puts up elite numbers, and being done with it is far from a surefire recipe for success. The risk is worth the reward for the Cubs in regard to Verlander.