Just as Major League Baseball’s waiver trade deadline passed, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander was traded to the Astros, who are trying to bolster their pitching staff to maintain their status as the best team in the American League. They currently lead Cleveland by only 3 1/2 games.
In return, the Tigers received three minor leaguers — outfielder Daz Cameron, right-handed pitcher Franklin Perez and catcher Jake Rogers — plus a player to be named later or cash.
Players must be acquired by 11:59 p.m. ET on Aug. 31 to be eligible to play in the postseason. Any trades after July 31 require a player to be placed on waivers, which Verlander reportedly cleared in the first week of August, allowing any team to trade for him.
Verlander is 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA in 28 starts for the Tigers this season, with 176 strikeouts in 172 innings. He has been even better of late, posting a 2.31 ERA in his last 11 starts, including nine strikeouts in six strong innings, allowing just one run against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Wednesday afternoon.
Trade speculation has been swirling around Verlander for weeks, with both ends of the spectrum being reported on both Wednesday and Thursday:
The #Tigers believe it's highly unlikely that Justin Verlander will be traded by tomorrow's midnight trade deadline— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 30, 2017
On Thursday, less than an hour before the trade deadline, the trade to Houston appeared both near complete and then finished, before ultimately getting completed.
Tigers and Astros very close to finalizing a deal for Justin Verlander. Verlander's approval is believed to be final hurdle— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) September 1, 2017
I have been told that Verlander deal is off. Apparently he didn't waive no trade clause. Again, Verlander deal has been nixed— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) September 1, 2017
The Verlander deal was nixed either because he vetoed it, or because the Astros got cold feet and pulled back part of their offer. Not clear— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) September 1, 2017
Now it's sounding like Verlander didn't turn down the trade. Will be interesting to hear how this evening went down.— Alyson Footer (@alysonfooter) September 1, 2017
"We thought the deal was dead," Crane said. "We tried previously. He's a quality pitcher."— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) September 1, 2017
The 34-year-old Verlander led the American League in strikeouts (254) and WHIP (1.001) in 2016 and was runner-up in American League Cy Young Award voting. He won the award in 2011, also capturing MVP honors that season.
The six-time All-Star has been one of baseball’s most durable starting pitchers for over a decade, averaging 212 innings, 32 starts, and 199 strikeouts per season from 2006-16.
Verlander is under contract through 2019, with a $22 million option for 2020 that vests if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. The right-hander has roughly $60.75 million in guaranteed money remaining in the deal, including approximately $4.75 million for the final month of 2017, then $28 million each in 2018 and 2019.
The Tigers are reportedly paying the Astros $8 million a year to cover part of Verlander’s remaining salary in 2018 and 2019, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.