Could the St. Louis Cardinals sign ace pitcher Justin Verlander?

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 16: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on August 16, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 16: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on August 16, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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HOUSTON, TEXAS – JULY 29: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on July 29, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS – JULY 29: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros pitches in the first inning against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on July 29, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The case for signing Justin Verlander

Verlander truly is one of the greatest pitchers of his generation.  From his Rookie of the Year-winning 2006 season through 2019, he captured an MVP trophy, two Cy Young Awards, was the runner-up for the latter three times and finished in the top five on three other occasions, and made eight All-Star teams.

In earning that hardware and those accolades, Verlander also won 225 games, struck out over 3,000 batters, and posted a 3.33 ERA that was 29% better than the average pitcher during that stretch of his career.

But then, after making the Astros’ Opening Day start in the delayed 2020 season, he missed the rest of the season due to what started as a forearm strain and ended up leading to Tommy John surgery.

Surely that was the death knell for a pitcher who was 37 years old, despite coming of a Cy Young Award in 2019, right?  Wrong.

Verlander has bounced back with another tremendous season during this, his age-39 campaign.  And he hasn’t simply maintained his usual dominance, he’s added to it.  Traditionalists undoubtedly love his 15-3 record and 1.95 ERA, while sabermetricians are drooling over his 199 ERA+ and 0.88 WHIP.

In short, Verlander appears to be ageless, defying not only the calendar but also a serious injury, a pairing few can defeat.  Yes, time comes for us all at some point, but that point appears to be in well into the future for Verlander.

Could the Cardinals use such a pitcher in the coming few seasons?  Yes, absolutely yes.  He’s the embodiment of an ace, and St. Louis is pretty much required to throw its hat into the ring if and when Verlander reaches free agency.

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