Last December, right-hander Justin Verlander signed a one-year deal with the Houston Astros. However, there were other American League teams interested in his services.
Verlander opened up about his free agency decision during a recent interview with ESPN's Jeff Passan. During their conversation, the two-time Cy Young Award winner revealed that two teams from the AL East pursued him.
The New York Yankees were a known suitor for Verlander, but the Toronto Blue Jays were actually considered the leader in the clubhouse.
Toronto made such a strong impression on Verlander that he informed the team of his decision to re-sign with Houston.
"Houston was at the top of the list," Verlander said. "As negotiations started going, they kind of fell off. Some other teams really started to show a lot of interest. I would say that the leader was probably Toronto. They were great. And I talked to George (Springer, his former Astros teammate now with the Blue Jays) a bunch. They were very proactive to the point that when I signed with Houston, I made sure to let them know that I appreciated it all. Ultimately, when it came down to it, Houston had the same offer. It was all kind of ballpark between them and Toronto, and New York (Yankees) was kind of always just a step behind."
Despite coming off Tommy John surgery, Verlander has been sensational this year.
In 12 starts, Verlander has an 8-2 record with a 1.94 ERA and 78 strikeouts. Those are impressive numbers for a pitcher who is coming off a major injury at 39 years old.
Unfortunately for Toronto, every successful start that Verlander has must feel like another blow to the fan base's heart.