So here’s a really strange story to slip into a very long USA Today article about the end of the GM Meetings, and all the offseason stuff it entails.
Sure, it’s adorned with the typical “where’s he gonna sign” consideration, but the anecdote winds up just making me wonder if the Astros hate Justin Verlander or something:
The most discussed future Hall of Famer pitcher was Justin Verlander, and not Max Scherzer or Clayton Kershaw.
Verlander, who received an $18.4 million qualifying offer from the Houston Astros, would normally seem like a lock to take the Astros up on their offer considering he has pitched only six innings since 2019, undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery.
Yet, he also knows it could be a bit uncomfortable returning to Houston. The Astros players revolted when Verlander was scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during the postseason, telling owner Jim Crane they preferred someone else considering Verlander had not been around all season.
Astros GM James Click, however, backed Verlander, saying it was COVID-19 protocols that prevented Verlander from being around the players.
I mean … what? Verlander’s teammates went TO THE OWNER to tell him not to let Verlander throw out a first pitch in the postseason because he hadn’t bene around the team enough while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery? That’s kinda wild, right?
As it relates to decisions that lie ahead, that would certainly explain why Verlander might not be quick to jump on the Qualifying Offer, despite it seeming like the best option for a near-39-year-old, post-TJS, post-sticky-stuff-ban pitcher trying to come back. As for why the Astros made the offer, they must either have had confidence that he would decline it, or that any rifts in the clubhouse wouldn’t be a big deal.