Justin Verlander isn’t likely to go anywhere this trade deadline, according to Jon Heyman. The exact words used by Heyman’s sources were that it would take “a miracle” to trade him, but the real answer is probably that it would take “the Tigers eating a heckuva lot more money than they’re currently willing to.”
Verlander is ...
- sporting a 4.50 ERA
- owed $28 million in each of the next two seasons
- walking more batters than he ever has, with his worst strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2008
Those aren’t points that suggest that another team shouldn’t want him, or that the 4.50 ERA is the truest measure of his current ability. It’s just all a rich tapestry of reasons why other teams are right to be skeptical. If his name were Bert Stalpo, the allure wouldn’t quite be there. But he’s Justin Verlander, MVP and ALDS legend. That’s still worth something. Everyone has seen the ceiling. The last time was 12 months ago, when he should have won the Cy Young.
Still, you can understand the Tigers’ reluctance to simply give him (and cartoonish sacks of money) away. There’s a strong chance that they’ll have an unwatchable team that’s hard to sell in the coming years. Keeping around a franchise icon is probably preferable to paying him to pitch for someone else. And if the Tigers avoid the long and slow decline somehow, they’ll be happy to have reliable innings, even if they’re paying far too much for them.
For now, it looks like Verlander is sticking around. There’s always a chance of a post-deadline trade, considering how likely he is to pass waivers, but the problems of his salary and the Tigers’ willingness to subsidize his departure will remain. He’s probably not going anywhere.
Hindsight is 20-20, but I’m so very curious if there were any offers the Tigers turned down after Verlander’s second-place Cy Young finish last season. In the AL Central, it appears as if the White Sox are the only team allowed to have impeccable timing with their trade chips. The Tigers, alas, will likely be forced to ride it out with one of the more popular players in franchise history. There are worse fates.
Better fates, too! But there are worse fates.