Justin Verlander declines player option, becomes free agent

Justin Verlander declined a $25 million option with the Houston Astros to become a free agent Thursday, five days after helping the team win its second World Series title.

The 39-year-old right-hander, likely headed for his third Cy Young Award, picked up his first World Series win in nine starts in Game 5 against the Philadelphia Phillies. The day before this happened, he said it was too early to think about his future.

“Really and truly, it’s been one hell of a ride, no matter if I stay or not,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time with this group of guys and the city and getting to know the city.”

Verlander was one of four players who became free agents Thursday, bringing the total to 165.

Verlander played for Detroit from 2005 until he was traded to the Astros in August 2017. He agreed to a $66 million contract that covers 2020 and 2021, then injured his elbow and required surgery by Tommy John.

After pitching one game the previous two seasons, Verlander became a free agent and re-signed with Houston on a one-year, $25 million contract that included the option. He went 18-4 with a major league-best 1.75 ERA in 28 starts, then went 2-0 with a 5.85 ERA in four postseason outings. He is 244-133 with a 3.24 ERA and 3,198 strikeouts in 17 seasons.

“What we have to do to win, we can do!” – Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander stops by to talk to the “MLB on FOX” crew about winning the World Series and Dusty Baker finally getting that special moment.

“I really enjoyed talking to some teams and kind of hearing their philosophies and talking about my philosophies with pitching and just talking about baseball,” he said. “I didn’t get the traditionals to come to town and not have all the dynamism because it was a short period of time.”

Several others have option decisions expected later Thursday. In other moves, the New York Mets declined an $8 million option on right-hander Mychal Givens in favor of a $1.5 million buyout, Baltimore said no to an $11 million option dollars to right-hander Jordan Lyles and will pay a $1 million buyout. , and Boston said the team and player had rejected a mutual $12 million option on outfielder Tommy Pham, who gets a $1.5 million buyout.

Associated Press report.

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