NEW YORK (AP) — The Houston Astros hat and T-shirt were familiar to Justin Verlander.

But the chaotic process that landed him at Yankee Stadium on Thursday was unlike anything the three-time Cy Young Award winner has experienced in an 18-year career.

“It was just a whirlwind, man,” Verlander said in his first full day back in uniform with the Astros, who acquired him from the New York Mets at Tuesday’s trade deadline.

The Astros sent top prospects Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford to the Mets in exchange for Verlander, who went 61-19 with a 2.26 ERA while winning two of his Cy Youngs and helping the Astros win two World Series crowns — including last year — from 2017 to 2022.

“It’s exciting seeing all the guys again,” Verlander said. “It feels a little weird because it hasn’t been that long, so it feels like you don’t miss a beat and you’re right back in the locker room. But on the other hand, there’s this whole segment that happened. So here I am, still staying in my apartment in New York.

“It’s a really odd feeling. Hard to explain.”

The Mets also sent as much as $50 million to the Astros to help pay off Verlander’s contract — the two-year deal worth a guaranteed $86.7 million he signed in December, weeks after the Astros won the World Series. Verlander’s $35 million option for 2025 vests if he throws 140 innings in 2024.

“I don’t think anybody saw this coming,” Verlander said. “You commit to a team and you commit to trying to win a championship there and that’s your vision. You’re all-in and then a few months later you’re back with the team you were with the last season.”

Verlander is slated to make the first start of his second stint with the Astros on Saturday, which means he’ll be making a third straight start in New York. He tossed six scoreless innings and earned the win for the Mets at Yankee Stadium against the Yankees on July 25 before recording his 250th career victory Sunday in a 5-2 victory over the Nationals at Citi Field.

“Well, he’ll get out of New York soon,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said with a laugh.

Following the win over the Yankees, Verlander indicated he was happy with the Mets and said “I didn’t sign a one-year deal.” But the Mets, who opened the season with a record $363 million payroll but fell out of contention during a 7-19 June, traded closer David Robertson to Miami on July 27 and dealt Verlander’s teammate and co-ace Max Scherzer to Texas shortly before Verlander pitched on Sunday.

Following the game, Verlander acknowledged he’d be more open to waiving his no-trade clause. But he went to Kansas City and spent Monday’s day off with the Mets.

“I’ve never really heard of anything exactly like this happening,” a bemused Verlander said, “First time for everything, I suppose. Just along for the ride and now trying to compete and win a championship.”

Most of Verlander’s 16-minute press conference centered around the season-long struggles endured by the Mets, who fell to 50-58 after they were outscored 20-8 by the Royals in a three-game sweep that ended Thursday.

“We kind of got off on the wrong foot — everything that could go wrong did early,” said Verlander, who was sidelined the first five weeks with a major teres strain but had a 1.95 ERA in his final nine starts with the Mets. “Even though we started playing some good baseball at times, we never really hit our stride where we were kind of banging on all cylinders. I can’t answer exactly why that is.”

Verlander arrives back in Houston with the Astros in the midst of a 12-6 surge since the All-Star Break and fresh off a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Guardians that included a no-hitter by Framber Valdez.

The Astros entered Thursday night’s game against the Yankees one game behind the Rangers in the AL West. Texas has been atop the division every day since Apr. 9.

“Being able to stay in it to this point and be able to play meaningful baseball in the last couple months is what it’s all about,” Verlander said.