Justin Verlander is coming off yet another fantastic season in which he captured his third career Cy Young award (and second unanimous one). Now a free agent, Verlander has been tied to the team that he helped beat in the 2017 World Series: the Los Angeles Dodgers.
This is not the first time that Verlander has been connected to the Dodgers. With Tyler Anderson recently ditching Los Angeles for Anaheim, Verlander makes all the more sense. With hard-throwing Walker Buehler out for the entire 2023 season, Verlander might just be an inevitability.
But it’s not that easy. It never is.
While Verlander was (and still is) undoubtedly great, he’s turning 40 in February and has a pretty high price point that the Dodgers just scoffed at last winter for a younger Max Scherzer. Instead of bringing in the 2022 AL Cy Young, the Dodgers would be better off bringing in other cheaper options (maybe more than one!) to have their rotation better prepared for the long haul and postseason.
3 cheaper pitchers the Dodgers should sign over Justin Verlander
3. Taijuan Walker
Taijuan Walker is not as good as Justin Verlander. To suggest that he is would be insanity. However, Walker is also going to likely cost a third of what Verlander will in yearly salary and would still give the Dodgers a solid presence in the rotation.
Los Angeles doesn’t need an ace pitcher to start atop the rotation. The team still has Julio Urías to be the ace next season with Clayton Kershaw being an overqualified second option. If the team is focused on spending on offense, it makes a lot more sense to make cheaper signings like Walker to fill out the rotation/deepen the staff in general.
There’s also a really high ceiling with Walker. His 3.49 ERA last season might not be that impressive, and his 4.47 ERA the year prior is even worse. However, Walker was elite in the first half of the 2021 season, earning an All-Star nod with his 2.66 ERA.
The Dodgers are notorious for getting the most out of pitchers, and if they can make Tyler Anderson one of the best southpaws in the sport, then they could definitely have Walker sustain his first-half greatness with the Mets. He has one of the best split-fingers in the league, and for a price of around $10-13 million per year, the Dodgers may take a chance on that.