Of all the transactions I thought might be possible during the MLB lockout, a big league team officially signing a big league player to a big league deal was certainly not one of them.
But apparently that’s on the table in certain circumstances? Because:
Justin Verlander’s two-year, $50 million agreement for '22-'23 with Houston has been given formal approval by Major League Baseball, even at a time when the owners have locked out the players in the on-going labor battle.
MLB and the union have worked through the final details.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 13, 2021
Justin Verlander’s contract with the Astros is now official, as @Buster_ESPN said. The holdup regarded language in his contract, and that issue has now been resolved, even with the lockout in progress.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 13, 2021
The best one could guess here is that the deal was considered completed before December 1 for all meaningful purposes, and since it was just certain language being resolved … that was still OK to do during the lockout? It’s weird. It doesn’t actually make any sense to me, to be honest.
So, updating our understanding of the types of transactions that can be completed during the lockout: (definitely) minor signings for players who did not finish the season on the 40-man roster, (maybe) minor league signings for guys who were not on the 40-man roster as of the lockout (if the signing process was already underway?), invites to big league Spring Training, minor league trades, and … big league signings that were basically all done before the lockout started but needed a little finalizing? Is Verlander’s the only one that falls into that category – was it truly a weird one-off? – or are there others that might suddenly get finalized?
Weird stuff. Anyway, Verlander is now officially back with the Astros (it was never expected to fall through), on what was originally reported as a one-year, $25 million deal with a player option for 2023 at the same price. So, effectively a two-year, $50 million deal, but he can leave after next year if he wants. Subject to whatever tweaking happened in these final talks … during the lockout.