I love Justin Verlander. He’s the beast of all beasts, and to me he always will be. Some of my best memories ever as a sports fan involve him on the mound in a Detroit Tigers uniform. He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. And the idea of a potential reunion with the Tigers seemed like a legitimate possibility coming into this off-season. Those dreams were quickly dashed as Verlander signed a one-year $25 million contract with the Houston Astros yesterday. He also has a player option for the 2023 season. Verlander will now return to Houston, where he recently won a Cy Young in 2019. There are a lot of Tigers fans out there who are incredibly disappointed by this. And there is a part of me that feels a little bit of disappointment knowing that we may never see Justin Verlander pitch at Comerica Park again. I felt like it could have made sense for Verlander to return to Detroit. I felt like he could’ve helped this ball club. Symbolically, it would’ve been a great story, as he would’ve had the opportunity to shepherd the three-headed monster of young starting pitchers in Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning. That dream will never be a reality, and quite frankly, I’m okay with that.
I will always believe in Justin Verlander. Much like Tom Brady with Super Bowls or Tom Izzo with Final Fours, I will always think that Justin Verlander has one last breath of greatness left in him. While it would defy the odds to see a 39-year-old pitcher, fresh off of Tommy John, pitching great baseball. If there’s anybody capable of doing that, it would be JV. If I felt like it made financial success for Detroit, I would’ve been gung ho about a Verlander reunion, but 25 million? I’d rather spend that money elsewhere.
Nostalgia is a beautiful thing. But nostalgia doesn’t win you championships. Verlander would have helped the Tigers, but it would’ve been too big a risk at the price the Astros ended up signing him for. And you know what? Good for Verlander. He doesn’t owe anything to anyone other than himself and his family. I’ll still find myself rooting for him, but the current fit with the Tigers didn’t make sense.