Justin Verlander starting season on IL, possibly impacting vesting option and money owed by Mets

Former Mets ace Justin Verlander, who was traded to the Houston Astros at last season's deadline, will start the season on the IL because of a shoulder issue and has a to-be-determined timetable -- a development that could have serious ramifications for New York.

Manager Joe Espada told reporters on Tuesday that Verlander had not suffered a setback, explaining that he simply won't be able to build up in time for Opening Day.

When the Mets traded Verlander, they agreed to pay $25 million of his 2024 salary and to pay half of his $35 million salary in 2025, which will only be required if his option vests.

Verlander's option will vest if he reaches the 140 innings mark this season.

If it vests, the Mets will be on the hook for $17.5 million.

If it doesn't vest, the Mets will owe Verlander nothing in 2025 since he will be a free agent.

Last season, Verlander tossed 162.1 innings over 27 starts between the Mets and Astros despite his regular season debut being delayed to May 4 because of a teres major injury.

The reason the Mets ate so much money in the trade that sent Verlander to Houston (and the deal that shipped Max Scherzer to the Texas Rangers) was because they wanted to maximize their prospect return.

And the Mets were able to achieve that goal, receiving three consensus Top 100 prospects -- Luisangel Acuña for Scherzer, and Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford for Verlander.

While Verlander's timetable is TBD, Scherzer is expected to be out until June or July after having surgery for a herniated disk in his back.

Needing to replace Verlander and Scherzer this offseason, the Mets signed Luis Severino and Sean Manaea, and traded for Adrian Houser.

Meanwhile, Acuña and Gilbert are expected to make their big league debuts this season.