Astros GM says Justin Verlander ‘looks like himself’ on mound

Kirthmon F. Dozier
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CARLSBAD, Calif. — Free agent ace Justin Verlander looked healthy and sharp at a showcase for scouts, according to his former general manager with the Houston Astros.

James Click said at the general manager meetings that Verlander “looks like himself” 13 months after having Tommy John surgery.

“We’ve kept a close eye on him,” Click said. “He’s been great about letting us know when he’s going to be throwing so we can get in there and get an eye on him, see how he’s doing. The videos I’ve seen have been awesome.”

The two-time Cy Young Award winner held a showcase for scouts from about 20 teams. New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Texas Rangers GM Chris Young confirmed they were among the clubs with representatives on hand.

Verlander won the AL Cy Young Award for Houston in 2019 but made just one appearance during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season because of elbow troubles. He had surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament Sept. 30, 2020, and missed all of the 2021 season, his last before the end of his contract with the Astros.

Houston extended an $18.4 million, one-year qualifying offer to the 38-year-old right-hander. Verlander has until Nov. 17 to accept or decline.

Click said the Astros are interested in bringing him back either way.

“From everything I’ve seen, from everything that I’ve heard, he is completely healthy,” Click said. “If he is and if we can find a way to bring him back to Houston, it would be tremendous.”