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Starting pitcher Justin Verlander is in the unenviable position of having a large contract on an aging roster that is one of the few American League teams practically out of the playoff hunt. As the Tigers look to rebuild their roster, shedding Verlander’s contract (and pulling in a new crop of prospects) is starting to look enticing; as a result, the former ace’s name is showing up in trade rumors.
There are some pretty significant hurdles involved in any trade negotiations involving Verlander. The biggest of these hurdles is that the 34-year old has a full no-trade clause in his contract that will allow him to pick his landing spot, if he is to leave the Motor City; the size of that contract is also another major problem is that Verlander is owed nearly $78 million dollars through 2019 — which averages out to roughly $30 million a year over the next 2.5 years. Which means that any team that could trade for him is going to need Detroit to take on some of his contract, which the Tigers have been reluctant to do so far.
Two weeks ago, it was reported that while the Tigers were willing to discuss Justin Verlander in trades, they sought a significant prospect return and weren’t inclined to include any financial compensation to offset his sizable contract. Now, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweets that the Tigers have softened that stance and are willing to include “some” cash in a theoretical trade to help facilitate a deal. Verlander also has a full no-trade clause, though, so he’d need to green-light any deal the Tigers are interested in making, if such an opportunity even arises.” — Steve Adams, MLB Trade Rumors
Detroit is either going to have to decrease its demand on the prospect return in a potential trade if they aren’t going to take on some of his contract; or the Tigers will have to take on a large portion of Verlander’s remaining contract if they’re going to get any high level prospects back.
So what teams are going to be interested in Justin Verlander, and would they be a good fit? We’ll discuss the teams that have been rumored before and rate how likely we think it is to happen (on a scale of 1-10) using fire emojis.
New York Yankees
Why it could happen: The Yankees recently lost starting pitcher Michael Pineda for the rest of the season to Tommy John surgery and need to bring in a starter to fill in for him. It’s going to be important, if New York is going to hang around in the playoff race, for them to shore up their starting staff.
Why this trade won’t happen: New York recently traded a bunch of prospects in a seven-player deal that brought them Todd Frazier and a couple of relief pitchers — David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. The prospects that were sent over to Chicago would have been the same type of prospects that Detroit would have wanted for Verlander.
How likely is it to occur: With their recently stripped farm system, and his salary considerations, it’s unlikely that the New York Yankees will end up with the 34-year old.
Why it could happen: Atlanta needs starting pitching and it’s needed badly. According to MLB Trade rumorsAccording to MLB Trade rumors, the Braves sent scouts to watch Verlander and starting pitcher Michael Fulmer this weekend to see if they can improve their pitching staff going forward.
Why this trade won’t happen: The Braves are still in the middle of rebuilding, which means they should be interested in holding onto as many of their prospects as possible. Yes, Verlander still has three years left on is deal which means he’s not just going to leave after one year; but he’s also 34-years old and in the middle of a down year. It’s to see a rebuilding to take a flyer on an aging, expensive, starting pitcher when they’re so young.
How likely is it to occur: Because of where Atlanta is at in the rebuild — and the fact that they Braves are eight games out of the Wildcard race — makes it really unlikely for the Braves to be serious contenders for Verlander’s services.
Why it could happen: Houston has had a series of injuries to its starting staff, yet their still the best team in the American League. Because of these injuries, the Astros been rumored to be interested adding some starting pitching depth that could help bolster the team for a deep run in the playoffs once they start. The good news is that Houston has money to spend because they’re roster is so young and cheap; the club also have prospects to spare because they’re young core is in place.
Why this trade won’t happen: There isn’t a desperate need for starting pitchers in Houston. While it would be nice for the best team in the AL to add starting depth, they don’t really need to as they already have a pretty damn good starting staff as is.
How likely is it to occur: While Houston is in the best position to obtain Verlander — prospects and flexibility — it’s unlikely that the Astros’ will expend the resources to acquire the aging star.
Why it could happen: The Mariners have yo-yo’d around .500 this season, and that’s largely because of health issues. Seattle is missing Drew Smyly and Hisashi Iwakuma, two starting pitchers that the M’s were counting on to help them to contend for one of the Wildcard berths. So it wouldn’t be surprising if the team expressed interest in Verlander, especially if they offered to pick up most of his contract.
Why this trade won’t happen: Seattle’s farm system is pretty barren, and it’s going to take a lot of time to rebuild it. It’s the lack of trade prospects that would be a problem for Detroit, as the main reason the franchise is interested in moving Verlander; the Tigers are looking to jumpstart the rebuilding process.
How likely is it to occur: With the lack of prospects available, Seattle an extremely unlikely landing spot for the 34-year old ace.
As you can see, it’s hard to imagine that Verlander is likely to be traded. His contract and Detroit’s apparent reluctance trade their star pitcher is likely to prevent them from being able to reach a deal with a prospective suitor by the non-waiver deadline.