The Mets sent two scouts to Justin Verlander’s showcase on Monday, but the draft pick compensation required to sign Verlander or any player who declines a qualifying offer might be too steep an acquisition cost, according to a person familiar with the team’s thinking.
If the Mets are looking to give big money to a veteran starter — a strategy that, given their resources, they should pursue — Max Scherzer would be a much easier fit than Verlander.
And as for Scherzer’s apparent unwillingness to accept a trade last year to New York? His agent, Scott Boras, pushed back on that and told SNY on Tuesday, “Max’s decisions are based on winning, not geography.”
Here’s why Verlander would be a tough fit:
The Astros extended the one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer to their former ace, who underwent Tommy John surgery 13 months ago.
If a player declines the qualifying offer, the club that signs him must surrender their second pick in next year’s amateur draft. For the Mets, that pick is unusually high, at 14th overall.
This is because the Mets’ first pick will be 11th overall, as compensation for deciding not to sign their top pick last year, Kumar Rocker.
According to sources, that makes it less likely that the team will sign one of the 12 outside players to whom a QO was extended.
Among that group, the following players could be a fit for the Mets if they were unattached to a qualifying offer: Verlander, outfielder Nick Castellanos, infielders Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, Carlos Correa, Chris Taylor and Trevor Story, and starting pitcher Robbie Ray.
Although the calculation would vary for each individual player, the team’s overall lean is to hold on to that 14th overall pick.
The team extended the QO to two of its own, Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard. Conforto will decline, while Syndergaard has yet to announce his plans. Technically, the Mets could re-sign Conforto and wouldn’t surrender the pick.
Because the Mets rotation is awash in question marks, including the health of Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard, it would make sense for the team to try to sign Scherzer, 37, to the type of contract they offered Trevor Bauer last year: three years, $105 million. Or more. It’s only money, and the Mets have plenty of it.
Scherzer was not eligible for a qualifying offer because he was traded during the season. Unlike with Verlander, signing him would be an addition with no subtraction — and meaningful progress toward Steve Cohen’s stated hope of winning a championship in three-to-five years.
Source: Yahoo Sports