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Analyzing the Impact of the Justin Verlander Trade on the Astros and Their Prospects

Justin Verlander Trade Impact

Justin Verlander is dealing with his second injury of the 2024 season, causing concerns for the Houston Astros, who traded top prospects to get him. Despite this, the traded prospects have not performed well, and the Mets are closely watching Verlander’s recovery due to a significant financial stake.

Key Takeaways
  • Trading Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford for Verlander remains a smart move for the Astros despite Verlander’s injuries.
  • Both Gilbert and Clifford have struggled since the trade, which currently alleviates some concerns about the deal.
  • The New York Mets are closely monitoring Verlander’s health due to a significant financial commitment if he pitches 140 innings.

Verlander’s Injuries Raise Concerns for Astros Post-Trade

Houston Astros fans might be feeling buyer’s remorse as Justin Verlander deals with his second injury of the 2024 season.

Acquiring an experienced pitcher like Verlander always carries risks, especially given his age.

Houston paid a high price, sending top prospects Ryan Clifford and Drew Gilbert to the Mets to bring Verlander back. Now, the loss of depth in their farm system feels particularly painful.

Assessing the Astros’ Trade Amid Prospect Struggles

A closer look at the trade reveals a more complex situation. It would be a different story if Gilbert and Clifford excelled with the Mets. However, that’s not how things have played out, which should help ease 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 the Astros. Houston knew they were paying a high price to bring back a generational pitcher in Verlander.

There’s still a good chance that at least one of these guys will make the Astros regret not holding onto them, as they were selected and developed by Houston for good reasons.

However, the early returns for the Mets haven’t been great. Drew Gilbert played exceedingly well last year in Double-A with a .984 OPS after the trade, but Triple-A has been more challenging, with a .240/.321/.360 line in just seven games. He has also been out with a hamstring injury since April.

Ryan Clifford’s situation is even more concerning. He posted a mediocre .683 OPS in 2023 after the trade, and his 2024 performance, with a .188/.304/.389 line, has exposed weaknesses in his hitting as strikeouts increase. Though he shows some power, his overall performance is lacking.

Prospects’ performances can change quickly, but these struggles highlight the uncertainty involved in trades. It would be beneficial if Verlander could get healthy and contribute more to the Astros.

Mets Weigh Verlander’s Future Amid Contract Uncertainty

The New York Mets continue to monitor Verlander closely due to financial implications. According to MLB insider Bob Nightengale, Verlander has a vesting option for the 2025 season if he reaches 140 innings pitched.

With Verlander having made only 10 starts and pitched 57 innings this season, it’s uncertain if he’ll meet this requirement. This vesting option is worth $35 million, with the Mets responsible for half, or $17.5 million.

The Mets are invested in Verlander financially, and his health is crucial. There’s a slim chance the Astros might trade him at this year’s MLB trade deadline, given their disappointing season and the need to strengthen their farm system.

Verlander’s Recovery Slows, Return Date Uncertain

Verlander started the season on the injured list due to right shoulder inflammation and made just 10 starts before landing back on the IL with neck discomfort. Despite being eligible to return on July 1, his recovery has been slow.

As of June 25, Astros manager Joe Espada confirmed Verlander had not started throwing yet and would not travel with the team to New York. In 10 starts this season, Verlander has a 3-2 record with a 3.95 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 51 strikeouts.

Astros Rally Amid Challenges, Eye Playoff Push

As of June 26, the Astros are second in the AL West with a 40-40 record and are three games back in the Wild Card standings.

Despite the challenges, a recent seven-game winning streak indicates a potential turnaround.

The team has been hit hard by pitcher injuries, including Verlander’s, but remains focused on acquiring new talent at the trade deadline.

General Manager Dana Brown expressed confidence in the team’s ability to rebound, stating that he doesn’t foresee the Astros becoming sellers.

With aggressive moves at the trade deadline, the Astros aim to stay competitive and make a strong push for the playoffs.