MLB trade grades: Justin Verlander returns to Astros in blockbuster deadline deal

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros, MLB rumors (Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros, MLB rumors (Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Houston Astros made the big move to re-acquire Justin Verlander, this time in a trade with the New York Mets. Let’s grade the trade.

The New York Mets tried to back up the Brinks truck to help the team bring a World Series title to Queens for the first time since 1986. Justin Verlander was their biggest signing of the offseason, as he won his second World Series title with the Houston Astros last year, while also picking up his third AL Cy Young award. But, the Mets were unable to live up to the hype, falling well out of the NL East race and had quite a distance back in the Wild Card standings.

This past week, the Mets decided it was in their best interest to trade some of their top players to bolster their farm system and build a strong foundation for the future. After reliever David Robertson was traded to the Miami Marlins, Max Scherzer was dealt to the Texas Rangers. Not long after, Verlander was open to potentially getting traded elsewhere. To do so, he would need to waive his no-trade clause.

Well, Verlander has a new home. Well, his old home — Houston.

According to multiple reports, the Astros have re-acquired Verlander from the Mets in exchange for two prospects. With that, Houston gets their former ace back.

MLB trade grades: Who won the Astros-Mets trade for Justin Verlander?

Houston Astros trade grade: A

Come on, this is a dream come true for the Astros and their fan base. The Astros were supposed to be on the downturn after failing to re-sign Verlander. Yet, they are in prime position to make the postseason this year. Now, they get their ace back to make another push for a World Series title. And Verlander has looked like his usual self in his recent stretch of starts.

They needed Verlander, especially with the rival Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels loading up for the second-half of the season.

Mets trade grade: C+

The Mets may call it “repurposing,” but this is essentially a rebuild. Their farm system desperately needed to add talent, and they have done so thus far They got two promising prospects from the Marlins for Robertson, and acquired Luisangel Acuna, the No. 44 prospect in baseball, from the Rangers. Now, they get Houston’s top prospect in Gilbert, who also ranks No. 68 overall in the entire league.

Here’s what MLB Pipeline says about Gilbert:

"“Gilbert is extremely aggressive in all phases of the game, yet his superb hand-eye coordination enables him to repeatedly barrel balls and produce high exit velocities. His left-handed stroke can get long because he hunts home runs, and while he rarely strikes out, he does make more ground-ball contact than desired. He’s not physical but does have enough bat speed and strength to provide 15-20 homers per season without selling out for power.”"

Then, there’s Ryan Clifford as the second piece going to Queens. Clifford is the team’s No. 4 prospect, but ranks outside of the Top 100 in MLB. Here’s what MLB Pipeline has to say about Clifford:

"“Clifford’s approach is more mature than that of most players his age, as he works counts and focuses on making hard contact. He has the bat speed and projectable strength to develop 20-25 home run power, and he does a good job of letting his power come naturally. He has a pretty left-handed swing and an efficient bat path, though his 30 percent strikeout rate in his introduction to pro ball showed he’ll need to do a better job of recognizing offspeed pitches.”"

This is a solid return for the Mets, but they have to hope these prospects pan out in the near future. What was originally a B+ trade grade for the Mets has now dropped down to a C+ after finding out the financial details of the trade.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Mets are sending $54 million to the Astros if Verlander’s vesting option for 2025 is activated. That vesting option kicks in if he pitches 140 innings in 2024. So, that is more than half of Verlander’s $93 million remaining on his contract.

That is a lot of money to get rid of Verlander and bring in two prospects.

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