Report: Justin Verlander agrees to 2-year contract with Mets

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Justin Verlander agreed to a two-year, $86.7 million contract with the New York Mets, reuniting the AL Cy Young Award winner with Max Scherzer and giving the team a high-profile replacement for Jacob deGrom.

The contract is worth $43,333,333 per season and includes a vesting player option for 2025 at $35 million, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no immediate announcement.

Verlander leaves World Series champion Houston to step in for deGrom, who left New York after nine seasons when he agreed to a five-year, $185 million contract with Texas last week. It also puts Verlander on the same team as Scherzer after they played together with the Detroit Tigers from 2010-14.

Depending on the final details, it appears Verlander’s deal matches Scherzer’s for baseball’s record for highest average annual salary. Scherzer finalized a $130 million, three-year deal with New York a year ago.

Verlander’s storied career was in question after he had Tommy John surgery in 2020. But he made an impressive return this season, becoming the 11th player to win the Cy Young Award at least three times.

The 39-year-old Verlander went 18-4 with a major league-low 1.75 ERA in 28 starts for the Astros. The right-hander also got his first career World Series win in Game 5 as Houston beat Philadelphia in six games.

Verlander declined a $25 million option five days after helping the Astros to the franchise’s second championship, making him a free agent.

The nine-time All-Star broke into the majors with Detroit in 2005 and stayed with the Tigers until he was traded to the Astros in August 2017. He won his first Cy Young Award in 2011 and also took home AL MVP honors after going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA in 34 starts.

Verlander agreed to a $66 million contract with Houston covering 2020 and 2021, then hurt his elbow. After pitching one game over the previous two seasons, Verlander became a free agent and re-signed with the Astros for a $25 million, one-year deal that included the option.

Verlander is 244-133 with a 3.24 ERA and 3,198 strikeouts in 17 seasons. He also won the 2019 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 34 starts.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.