SAN DIEGO -- The Mets lost Jacob deGrom to the Rangers on Friday but made a splash Monday morning at the Winter Meetings by inking free agent Justin Verlander to a two-year deal worth $86 million. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the agreement includes a potential third year and is pending a physical. 

The Mets now have Verlander and Max Scherzer atop their starting rotation, a formidable duo that the Phillies will see a ton of next season. 

The Phillies are also in the market for a starting pitcher, though not of the elite status of Verlander. Instead, the club is eyeing a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm to slot behind Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Ranger Suarez. 

"We know how important depth is, so we're open-minded to that," Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said last month. "It doesn't necessarily have to be a top-of-the-rotation kind of guy, but we'll explore that market." 

For now at least, Dombrowski envisions the fifth spot in the starting rotation remaining open for one of the club's younger arms. 

"We are keeping a spot open for a youngster," Dombrowkski said. "Could two (make it)? Perhaps, but we're really only looking at one. Not that two at some point won't be pitching in your rotation, but I do think that having another veteran arm, we do need to fill a slot like that." 

Andrew Painter, 19, was the organization's first-round pick in 2021 and was named MLB Pipeline's Pitcher of the Year this year after posting a combined 1.56 ERA across Single-A and Double-A. He also held opponents to a .181 batting average while collecting 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings (155 strikeouts over 103 2/3 innings). 

Bailey Falter and Christopher Sanchez are also in line for a potential look at a spot, while prospects Griff McGarry and Mick Abel are considered dark horse candidates. 

The Phillies enter the Winter Meetings eyeing a top-line shortstop and appear to be the frontrunners in signing two-time All-Star Trea Turner. The starting rotation need and the retooling of the bullpen are secondary concerns, though both need to be addressed. 

The Phillies have some money to play with, given that nearly $80 million has fallen off the books in expired contracts and roster decisions. 

It could be a busy week here for Dombrowski and Co. in San Diego. 
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