There are a lot of top tier free agents on the market around the MLB right now, and Justin Verlander is one of them. Verlander, who capped off an incredible comeback season in which he helped the Houston Astros win the 2022 World Series by claiming his third Cy Young award on Wednesday night, opted out of his deal with the Astros, and is looking to get paid this offseason.

Verlander made $25 million with the ‘Stros last season, so he’s obviously going to be looking to make more money now that he’s testing free agency. Reports have begun to pop up that Verlander is looking to get a deal similar to the three-year, $130 million deal that his former teammate Max Scherzer received from the New York Mets last offseason.

Verlander’s desired contract puts teams across the league in an interesting spot, as he is going to be 40 years old by the time the 2023 season starts, and has dealt with some serious injuries recently. But then again, he just had one of the most dominant campaigns of his career, and has shown no signs of slowing down. Would it make sense to give Verlander that type of money? Let’s take a closer look.

Why MLB teams will have to fulfill Justin Verlander’s contract demands

It’s tough to put into perspective just how good Verlander’s 2022 campaign was. His overall stats (18-4, 1.75 ERA, 185 K, 0.83 WHIP) were outrageous, and it’s not hard to see why he won the third Cy Young award of his career. It’s also worth noting Verlander had basically spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons on the sidelines as he dealt with injuries, only making his work in 2022 more impressive.

Coming back from what was essentially a two year layoff and being the best pitcher in the majors is tough to do, especially when you are 39 years old. Every athlete hits a wall at some point, but Verlander looked as good as he has ever looked in his career despite the circumstances surrounding his return to the hill.

Even though he’s about to be 40 years old, you cannot argue with the results Verlander put up last season. Teams can worry about age and injuries, but at the end of the day, the numbers that matter are the ones that Verlander posts on the mound, and in 2022 they were phenomenal. There’s really no reason for him to not expect to get paid this offseason.

The deal Scherzer got last offseason is viewed as a comparable deal for Verlander because Scherzer was in a somewhat similar situation as Verlander was last offseason. He’s getting older, as he was 37 last offseason, but has shown literally no signs of decline. Scherzer deserved to get paid, and he ended up with a massive deal from the Mets.

So far that deal has to be considered a success for the Mets, as Scherzer was his typical dominant self in 2022 (11-5, 2.29 ERA, 173 K, 0.91 WHIP) despite the fact he only made 23 starts. Scherzer didn’t have the injury concerns that Verlander had, but he will be 40 years old by the time his deal with the Mets is up.

It’s not unreasonable for Justin Verlander to expect to get similar money, but should teams actually pay Verlander the amount of money he is looking for? He is 40 after all, and if he begins to regress over the course of the contract, that deal will quickly become a huge waste of money for the team paying him.

Contracts in the MLB are flawed in a lot of ways, as they often result in many stars getting paid inordinate amounts of money at the backend of the deals. The thing with Verlander is that he isn’t looking for a deal that will pay him until he’s 50 years old. Verlander is looking for a two to three year deal that will pay him a lot of money, and it’s not an unreasonable request.

Even if Verlander gets paid and regresses, the deal is absorbable because it’s only for two or three seasons. Based on how good he was in 2022, there’s literally no reason to expect Verlander to regress next season, so that’s already one year of the deal that should work out for the team that signs him. If he regresses in year two or three, so be it, but it’s not as if the team is going to be completely bogged down for decades because they overpaid for Verlander.

Verlander was the best pitcher in 2022, and he deserves to get paid as such. If one team is skeptical of paying him, that’s fine, because there is certainly going to be another team willing to pay him. Good play gets rewarded with big contracts, and despite all the circumstances regarding Verlander past two or three seasons, he was phenomenal in 2022 and deserves to get the money he’s looking for.

It’s not a matter of if Verlander will get paid; it’s a matter of when. It doesn’t even matter if Verlander is worth the money (which, as we’ve outlined here, he is) because he will likely get it anyways. And if you are an MLB team that has to contemplate whether or not you are willing to pay Justin Verlander, there’s a decent chance that you will have already been beaten to the punch by someone else.