Astros’ Justin Verlander opts out of player option, becomes free agent

 

Following a career year that saw Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros win the World Series, the two-time CY Young winner is a free agent.

Verlander opted out of his contract Thursday, declining his $25 million player option that came about after he threw over 130 innings during the 2022 MLB season.

Members of the Astros, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, Yuli Gurriel and Lance McCullers Jr., participate in the World Series parade on Nov. 7, 2022, in Houston.
(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

After missing the entire 2021 season following Tommy John surgery, Verlander was one of the best pitchers in baseball, going 18-4 with a career-best 1.75 ERA.

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The Astros have said they would like to have Verlander next season, with owner Jim Crane saying the organization will do its best to negotiate with Verlander in the exclusive window.

Astros’ Justin Verlander pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park on Oct. 28, 2022, in Houston.
(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

“Justin really had a great year,” Crane said Wednesday, according to MLB.com. “We have a good relationship with him, [manager] Dusty [Baker] and I and [general manager] James [Click]. I think we have [until] about four o’clock [Thursday] to talk to him. We’ve been talking to him and we’re working on it. We’re gonna do our best to try to keep him.”

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The Astros have nine free agents just a few days after winning the organization’s second World Series in six years.

Manager Dusty Baker, who became the oldest manager to win a World Series at 73 years old, agreed to a one-year contract to return for the 2023 season.

Justin Verlander of the Astros after defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 to win the World Series at Minute Maid Park on Nov. 5, 2022, in Houston.
(Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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“I always said if I win one, I wanted two,” Baker said after winning the Wolrd Series, according to Sports Illustrated. “I’m going to try to keep my word. I like to keep my word, especially like this. This was as much fun as I’ve had ever. I had forgotten about how much fun the ticker-tape parade was because it’s been 40 years since the last one I went to, and what it means to me and my family and the city of Houston.”

Verlander is expected to win his third CY Young award when the winners are announced on Nov. 16.