It's no secret that the Toronto Blue Jays are looking to add to the starting rotation this off-season, with Robbie Ray and Steven Matz hitting the free agent market. Now, after striking out on signing Eduardo Rodriguez (Tigers) and Noah Syndergaard (Angels), the Blue Jays reportedly have a new target: Justin Verlander.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on MLB Network Wednesday that the Blue Jays are "certainly" showing interest in the future Hall of Famer, adding the Yankees and Red Sox are in on those sweepstakes, too. Bob Nightengale of USA Today adds that the White Sox and Verlander's former team, the Astros, are also interested in signing him.
"Justin Verlander is a hot name on the market right now," Rosenthal said. "He is someone that, from what I heard yesterday, has a preference to stay with a team that trains in the state of Florida. That's most likely an east coast team."
Verlander, who turns 39 in February, did not pitch in 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September of 2020. The two-time Cy Young winner and former AL MVP is coming off a two-year, $66-million contract he signed with the Astros, who acquired him from the Detroit Tigers in August of 2017.
Verlander's interest in playing for a team whose facilities are based in Florida is good news for the Blue Jays, who opened a 65-acre fully renovated player development complex in Dunedin, Fla., in early 2021.
"I had someone (at the GM meetings) go out of their way to mention to me the player development complex," Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith said on a recent episode of the At The Letters podcast. "If someone who is just totally independent of the Blue Jays is starting to talk about the impact that that's had, then you start to think, maybe this is making some -- I don't want to say waves -- but people are noticing and appreciating it in the industry."
Verlander was given a qualifying offer by the Astros and has until 5 p.m. ET Wednesday to accept it. If he declines and signs elsewhere, his new team will owe the Astros a draft pick.
It might not be long until the eight-time all-star decides on his next destination. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Verlander is weighing one-year and multi-year deals and could "have a decision fairly soon, perhaps even this week."