Justin Verlander declines player option, becomes free agent

The MLBPA announced that Justin Verlander, Mychal Givens, Tommy Pham and Jordan Lyles resolved option decisions in their contracts and are now free agents.

Verlander opted out of the last year of his deal with the Houston Astros, which was due to pay him $25 million in 2023. The 39-year-old righty had one of the best seasons of his career in 2022, posting a 1.75 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP and striking out 185 batters in 175 innings over 28 starts for the world-champion Astros. His strong campaign made him a finalist for the Cy Young Award, which will be announced Wednesday.

The decision to opt out immediately makes Verlander one of the best free agent pitchers.

Givens hits the market after the Mets declined their end of a mutual option, a decision previously announced by Mets general manager Billy Eppler. Givens will collect a $1.25 million buyout and head into free agency. New York acquired Givens at the trade deadline from the Cubs, who signed him to a one-year, $5 million contract in the offseason. Givens had a strong first half with Chicago, posting a 2.26 ERA in 40⅔ innings, but struggled in Queens, with a 4.79 ERA in 20⅔ innings for the Mets.

For Pham, the Red Sox declined their end of a $12 million mutual option for 2023, giving the outfielder a $1.5 million buyout and sending him into free agency. Boston traded for Pham at the trade deadline, acquiring the 34-year-old outfielder from the Cincinnati Reds. In 622 plate appearances between the Red Sox and Reds, Pham hit .236/.312/.374.

Lyles becomes a free agent after the Orioles declined the righty's $11 million club option for 2023, triggering a $1 million buyout. Baltimore signed Lyles to a one-year, $7 million contract in 2022, and in 32 starts, the righty posted a 4.42 ERA with 144 strikeouts in 179 innings, the most on the team.