The Red Sox were one of several teams on hand to watch Justin Verlander pitch at a showcase on Monday, reports Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal (Twitter link).
Per McAdam, the Sox were one of 15-20 big-league clubs in attendance to observe Verlander’s workout at Cressey Sports Performance in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Verlander threw 25 pitches while hovering around the mid-90s and topping out at 97 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball. McAdam adds that he apparently “looked impressive.”
Verlander, who turns 39 in February, became a free-agent last week after spending the last 4 1/2 seasons with the Astros. The veteran right-hander has not appeared in a game since July 24, 2020, however, as he suffered a forearm strain that ultimately required Tommy John surgery last September.
In his most-recent full season of work, 2019, Verlander posted a 2.58 ERA and 3.27 FIP to go along with a career-best 300 strikeouts and 42 walks over 34 starts spanning 223 innings of work en route to winning his second American League Cy Young Award.
Despite the fact that he has not pitched on a major-league mound in well over a year, Verlander still received a qualifying offer from Houston. This means that if the 38-year-old were to reject it and a remain a free agent, any other team that signs him would then owe the Astros compensation in the form of a draft pick.
In the Red Sox’ case, that would require them to forfeit their second-highest available selection in next year’s draft while also having their international signing bonus pool for next year’s international signing period reduced by $500,000
When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) on Sunday, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom indicated that the team was now in a better spot to pursue qualified free agents, such as Verlander, than they were a year ago.
“I think we’re in better position than we were a year ago,” Bloom said. “Even a year ago, I remember we talked about it and I said it’s certainly not something that’s off the table for us. Now at the time I said that knowing that most likely with those guys (last year’s qualified free agents), it wouldn’t line up. I don’t know how this offseason is going to play out. But I think just where we’re positioned now with the depth that we have internally, although we’re nowhere close to where we want to be, we are in a better position than where we were.
“So I think it’s likelier there could be a fit there,” he added. “But we’re just going to do as we would with any move, just access all the implications. And if it is something that makes sense for us, we’ve got to be ready to bounce.”
A client of ISE Baseball, Verlander does have some Red Sox connections, as manager Alex Cora served as Houston’s bench coach during their controversial World Series run in 2017.
Verlander, like Eduardo Rodriguez, has until November 17 to decide if he will either accept the Astros’ $18.4 million qualifying offer and remain in Houston for the 2022 campaign, or reject it and test the open market instead.
(Picture of Justin Verlander: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)