Within the next few weeks, the Justin Verlander era could be coming to an end in Detroit.
It might be hard to believe, but the Detroit Tigers could deal Verlander before the MLB trade deadline on July 31. According to a report on Wednesday from Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, it appears as though the Tigers “could be talked into” moving him before the trade deadline. This means that there is a chance that the 34-year-old Verlander will be pitching for another team this time next month.
Even though the Tigers are not necessarily shopping Verlander right now, it would be a good idea to start considering offers for him. The team is not going anywhere this year. As we head into the second half of the season, Detroit is 39-48. They are in fourth place in the AL Central, and are eight games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians. If there is any time to trade Verlander, it is now.
Although it is true that the Tigers might get more in return by trading a pitcher other than Verlander, the team would be wise to keep their other starters. Young right-hander Michael Fulmer has pitched like an ace this season. He is 9-6 with a 3.19 ERA in 17 starts. Fulmer, who came over to the Tigers in the deal that sent Yoenis Cespedes to the New York Mets two years ago, had a fantastic rookie season last year. In 26 starts, he went 11-7 with an ERA of 3.06 and captured the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year Award. The Tigers also have Jordan Zimmermann and Anibal Sanchez in their rotation. Both pitchers have had rough seasons, and probably do not have much trade value right now.
Verlander has not necessarily had his best season either. He is 5-6 with a 4.73 ERA in 18 starts. This could be a sign that his career is on the decline. Verlander is definitely not the ace he once was. At the height of his career, he was one of the most dominant pitchers in the MLB. In 2011, he had one of the best seasons that a pitcher has had over the past few decades. That year, he won 24 games and posted an ERA of 2.40. He led the AL in wins, ERA, WHIP, innings pitched and strikeouts. He won the 2011 AL Cy Young Award, and also captured the 2011 AL MVP Award.
In the years following that unbelievable season, Verlander pitched well, but never quite duplicated what he did in 2011. After he had a rough year in 2014, Verlander bounced back and put together two solid seasons in a row. He started to look like his dominant self again last season, going 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA in 34 starts. He finished second in the 2016 AL Cy Young Award voting, as his former teammate Rick Porcello took home the honor.
Because of Verlander’s track record, he is going to generate some interest from other teams, even though he is not having the best season. If the Tigers really want to trade him, they should have no issue finding a team willing give up some prospects for him. The problem is going to be finding a team willing to take on his contract. Verlander is owed $28 million each of the next two seasons.
The Los Angeles Dodgers might be one team interested in Verlander. They already own baseball’s best record, and could get even better by adding him. With Clayton Kershaw already in the Dodgers rotation, Verlander would not have to be the ace. Other teams that could potentially be interested in him are the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks.
As the trade deadline approaches, Tigers general manager Al Avila will have to make a decision about what to do with his team’s longtime ace. Parting ways with Verlander will not be easy, but a trade will probably benefit both parties in the end.