The New York Yankees are in line for a busy offseason. While re-signing Aaron Judge will obviously be their prime objective this offseason, the Yankees have other areas of their roster that need to be addressed, with starting pitching being one of their bigger needs. For that reason, New York has emerged as one of the top suitors for Justin Verlander’s services in free agency.
Verlander just won the third Cy Young award of his career on Wednesday night, and Verlander’s work in the 2022 season may be the most impressive of his career. Verlander posted an insane statline (18-4, 1.75 ERA, 185 K, 0.83 WHIP) despite missing most of the 2020 and 2021 season, and also being 39 years old.
Not many players could make the stunning return that Verlander made last season, and he’s set to earn a big pay day this offseason as a result. With Verlander looking to cash in this offseason, let’s take a look at three big reasons why the Yankees would be the perfect fit for Verlander if he decides to leave the Astros behind.
3. The Yankees are built to win now
It goes without saying that Verlander is likely looking to join a contender if he leaves Houston in free agency. It’s going to be tough to offer a better winning atmosphere than the one the Astros have, especially considering they just won the 2022 World Series, but the Yankees meet the minimum requirement of having a team that is built to win now, and that should appeal to Verlander.
Even without Judge, New York has a strong lineup that can inflict some damage on their opposition, although it is worth noting that the Yankees would have gone nowhere without Judge in 2022. The Yankees have a strong pitching staff, with their bullpen being particularly lethal when they can stay healthy. It’s the starting rotation that needs the most work right now, though.
It’s not a stretch to say that adding Verlander could instantly make the Yankees World Series favorites come next season, and that has to be at least somewhat appealing for Verlander. Assuming New York would be willing to hand Verlander the money that he wants, the Yanks should quickly be able to emerge as one of the star ace’s top suitors.
2. Justin Verlander could help Aaron Judge re-sign with the Yankees
This is more of a reason why the Yankees would be interested in Verlander, but it still could help in their pursuit of both players. New York is going to have to have pull out all the stops to convince Judge to re-sign with them this offseason, and adding big time players could be an easy way to accomplish that.
Conversely, adding Judge back to the squad could entice Verlander to jump ship and join the Yankees too. As previously mentioned, Judge was the key cog in New York’s lineup last season, and without him leading the way, they certainly look like a very vulnerable group. They can hit bombs, yes, but not many guys can hit above .300 like Judge just did in 2022.
It’s kind of interesting, because both guys may be the key to signing the other, and it will be interesting to see which domino falls first here. In order for the Yankees to re-sign Judge, they are likely going to have to put together a massive offseason, and Verlander could help them greatly. And if Verlander defects to the Yankees, that could convince Judge to stay put, which would certainly help both parties out.
1. The Yankees need help in their starting rotation
Signing Verlander would ultimately make no sense if the Yankees didn’t have a legitimate need for starting pitching. The good news (or bad, depending on how you want to look at it) is that the Yankees have a clear need for starters this offseason. That’s obviously going to be the main reason why signing Verlander would make sense for them this offseason.
New York is led by Verlander’s former Astros teammate Gerrit Cole, and reuniting them would give the Yankees a dominant one-two punch that would be among the best in the league. Nestor Cortes had a breakout campaign in 2022, but behind him there was a lot of inconsistent pitching, which was a problem that hurt the Yankees in a big way down the stretch.
Adding Verlander, who was quite literally the best pitcher in the league last season, could be the addition that pushes New York over the top. The Yankees have been doing whatever they can to make it back to the World Series in recent years, but have been unsuccessful. If they can find a way to add Verlander to their squad, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see their fortunes change in 2023.