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Astros, Tigers discussing Justin Verlander trade

Monday’s Say Hey, Baseball looks at a potential August trade, an August trade that just went down, and the loss of a Phillies great.

Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Teams can still trade in August after the July 31 trade deadline; there is just more red tape and paperwork to deal with first. August's major hurdle to deals — waivers — has been cleared by Tigers starter Justin Verlander, thanks to the $56 million still owed him over the next two seasons. That means Verlander can be traded to any team in the league, and according to MLB's Jon Morosi, the Astros are hoping they're that team.

The Astros didn't believe they needed another starter before July 31, in large part due to the imminent return of Dallas Keuchel to the rotation meaning they felt they had enough starters around. However, in the week since then, Lance McCullers has not made progress with his back injury, and his return from the DL is unknown. The Astros also have annoyed their players with their inaction, with Keuchel — one of the team's most important players — publicly unhappy with the inaction.

The problem, as it was before the deadline, is that money still owed to Verlander. The Tigers either need to pay a portion of it to get back better prospects, or they need to accept what they get back for Verlander is mostly salary relief. What might help the Tigers with leverage at this point is Verlander's recent pitching: his ERA+ for the season is now up at 104, whereas during deadline negotiations he was sitting below-average at the same time he was failing to go deep into games.

Verlander certainly isn't out of the woods just yet, but he's been pitching deeper into games for the last month and has a 2.31 ERA with over a strikeout per inning over his last six starts. That looks more like a starter the Tigers can demand things for, and depending on the Astros' level of insecurity about their own starters, might be what convinces them to dive in even with all the cash still coming the right-hander's way.