Verlander, Astros finalize $25 million, 1-year contract

Dec 13, 2021, 9:52 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2021, 11:54 am
FILE - Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander throws to the St. Louis Cardinals during the first i...

FILE - Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander throws to the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of a spring training baseball game on March 3, 2020, in Jupiter, Fla. Verlander has agreed to a $25 million, one-year contract with the Astros that includes a conditional $25 million player option for a second season. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

HOUSTON (AP) — Justin Verlander’s $25 million, one-year contract with the Houston Astros has been finalized, nearly a month after it was agreed to.

The pitcher and the Astros reached an agreement on Nov. 17 subject to a successful physical. While the deal was reported before the collective bargaining agreement expired Dec. 1 and a signing freeze began, Major League Baseball and the players’ association did not approve it until this week.

Verlander’s agreement incudes a $25 million salary for 2022 and a $25 million player option for 2023 conditioned on him pitching 130 or more innings in 2022.

Verlander became a free agent after completing a $94 million, three-year contract with the Astros. He played in just one game in the past two seasons.

He made just one start in 2020, pitching six innings on July 24 in a win over Seattle on opening day before being placed on the injured list with strained right forearm. He attempted a comeback, but announced on Sept. 19, 2020, that he needed Tommy John surgery and underwent the procedure on Oct. 1.

He said earlier this year that his rehabilitation was going well and added he disliked playing only one game in the time that deal covered.

“That gnaws at me,” he said. “But … this was an unfortunate injury that nobody could have seen coming. But I still do like to earn my keep.”

The 38-year-old right-hander is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and the 2011 AL MVP.

Verlander spent his first 13 seasons with the Detroit Tigers before being traded to the Astros on Aug. 31, 2017. His stellar performance after the late deal helped Houston to its first World Series title that season. He is 43-15 with a 2.45 ERA and 640 strikeouts in 74 starts for the Astros.

Verlander went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 2019, striking out a career-high 300 and throwing the third no-hitter of his career to win his second career Cy Young Award. He pitched 223 innings, most in the majors, and made six more starts in the postseason as the Astros reached the World Series.

Verlander is 226-129 with a 3.33 ERA in 16 seasons. Along with his Cy Young Awards and MVP award, he was also the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year. He has 3,013 strikeouts in his career, which ranks 19th.

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