|Justin Verlander pitching against the San Francisco Giants on July 1. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets completed their fire sale ahead of the trade deadline on Tuesday evening, as they sent ace pitcher Justin Verlander back to the Houston Astros.
In a pattern that fit all the Mets' moves in the past week as they dismantled their team, the most-expensive in baseball history, they received minor league outfielders Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford in exchange for Verlander and cash considerations. Reports indicate that the Mets will be be paying $35 million of Verlander's salary for the remainder of this season and next, the remainder of the two-year, $86 million contract he signed with the Mets last December.
Verlander pitched for Houston from 2017 through 2022, where he won two World Series rings, a pair of Cy Young Awards in 2019 and 2022, was the ALCS MVP in 2017, and made the All-Star team three times. In his six seasons with Houston, he went 61-19 with a 2.26 ERA (earned run average), with 825 strikeouts, an 0.83 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched), and a .184 opponents batting average in 102 starts. In the postseason with Houston, Verlander is 9-6 with a 3.87 ERA in 19 games (18 of which were starts), with a highlight being the complete game he threw against the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS.
This season, in his lone one with the Mets, Verlander went 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA (earned run average) in 16 starts, as he allowed 36 runs (33 earned) on 77 hits and 31 walks, with 81 strikeouts, in 94 1/3 innings pitched. He won his 250th career game on Sunday in what turned out to be his last start with the Mets, as he went 5 1/3 innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits and a walk, with five strikeouts.
In the past week, the Mets, who entered the trade deadline with a record of 50-55, traded their closer, David Robertson, to Miami; the other ace of their rotation, Max Scherzer, to the Texas Rangers; outfielder Mark Canha to the Milwaukee Brewers; outfielder Tommy Pham to the Arizona Diamondbacks; and pitcher Dominic Leone to the Los Angeles Angels.
More information on who the Mets received for Verlander:
Outfielder Drew Gilbert is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Astros organization, according to Baseball America and the 68th-best prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. He also ranked as the 36th-best prospect in the Majors, according to the Baseball Prospectus mid-year ranking.
The 22-year-old Gilbert was selected as the 28th overall pick in the 2022 First-Year Player Draft from the University of Tennessee. This season, in 82 games between High-A and Double-A, the left-handed batter has hit .274 with 12 home runs, 38 RBI, a .363 on-base percentage, and a .458 slugging percentage, with 57 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, 19 doubles, and one triple. He represented Houston in the 2023 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Outfielder Ryan Clifford was the No. 3 prospect in the Astros system, according to Baseball America and the No. 4 Houston prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was selected in the 11th round of the 2022 First-Year Player Draft out of Crossroads FLEX High School in Cary, North Carolina.
The 20-year-old has appeared in 83 games this season for Class-A Fayetteville and High-A Ashville, and he has hit .291 with 18 home runs and 61 RBI, with a .399 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging percentage, giving him a .919 OPS (on-base plus slugging). In 108 minor league games, he has a slash line of .282/.405/.494, with 20 home runs, 71 RBI, 21 doubles, and 70 runs scored.