Could the St. Louis Cardinals sign ace pitcher Justin Verlander?
By Greg Simons
The case against signing Justin Verlander
How many pitchers are successful at age 40? Sure, the Cardinals can look into their own dugout and see Adam Wainwright showing it can be done. But they also have seen the injuries that resulted in Wainwright being a Hall of Very Good pitcher instead of a potential Hall of Famer.
And prior injuries are the best indicator of future injuries. Wainwright underwent Tommy John surgery when he was 29, recuperating at a much younger age than Verlander was he went under the knife. How long can an older recipient of the same procedure hold up? Of course, it’s an unknown, but it’s undoubtedly a risk.
And then there’s the contract Verlander will demand. If he eschewed a $25M guarantee from Houston, there’s a clear reason. He’s going to want significantly more than that for a season of work, and he’s undoubtedly going to target a multi-year pact.
Verlander has been saying for years he wants to pitch until he’s 45. While that may be pushing even his limits, he likely is going to want the security of a long-term deal, one with a massive average annual value.
What would be a reasonable target? Well, first, “reasonable” is in the eye of the beholder. How about record-breaking? That probably has a certain appeal to Verlander.
Look at the three-year, $130M contract Max Scherzer signed with the Mets last offseason for his age-37 through age-39 campaigns, which works out to $43.33M per season. Verlander could shoot for something shorter but with a higher AAV, say two years and $87M, with that $43.5M average setting a new record. Would he get that? Almost certainly. And Verlander might even seek a three-year pact.
Would the Cardinals sign up for that kind of investment? It’s a risky commitment, but that’s the kind of obligation it will take to bring one of the best pitchers of his generation to the Gateway City.