Tigers trade Justin Verlander to Astros and fully commit to rebuild
For a while Thursday it seemed the deal would not get done
The first place Houston Astros have made a late season blockbuster.
Thursday night, the Astros reportedly acquired Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander for three prospects. The two sides have been talking for weeks, and for a while Thursday it seemed the deal had fallen apart. That, obviously, is not the case. A deal got done.
Verlander is owed $28 million in both 2018 and 2019, and his contract also includes a vesting option for 2020 based on Cy Young voting. The Tigers are reportedly eating some of that money, which makes sense for them. They certainly have cash to play with, and the more money they eat, the more they should expect in return.
The 34-year-old Verlander was originally drafted and developed by the Tigers. So far this season he's 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA (116 ERA+) and 176 strikeouts in 172 innings. Much like last season, though, he's heating up as the season goes on. In his last 11 starts, he's pitched to a 2.31 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 74 innings.
The Astros are currently without Lance McCullers Jr., who is out with a back injury. Dallas Keuchel has had on-and-off injury problems this year, and Collin McHugh missed time with an elbow injury as well. Houston had an obvious need for another starting pitcher. They may have the best record in the AL and a comfortable division lead, but this team is thinking World Series, and Verlander improves their chances of a deep October run considerably.
In return for trading their franchise pitcher, the Tigers received the No. 3 (Franklin Perez), No. 9 (Daz Cameron), and No. 11 (Jake Rogers) prospects in Houston's farm system, per MLB.com. The 19-year-old Perez is one of the fastest rising pitching prospects in baseball. He has a 3.08 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 86 1/3 innings split between Single-A and Double-A this year. Here is a snippet of MLB.com's scouting report on the right-hander:
Though he's just a teenager, Perez already demonstrates feel for four offerings. His most consistent pitch right now is his lively fastball, which sits at 92-94 mph, peaks at 96 and could add more velocity once he physically matures. His downer curveball projects as a future plus pitch, his fading changeup shows similar upside and his slider is developing nicely ... He has the upside of a No. 3 starter and is on pace to reach Houston before he turns 22.
Cameron, 20, is the son of longtime big leaguer Mike Cameron and an outfielder like his father. He is hitting a robust .271/.349/.466 with 14 home runs and 32 steals in 120 Single-A games this season. The 22-year-old Rogers is an elite defensive catcher who is hitting .263/.352/.472 at two different Single-A levels in 2017. Make no mistake, the Tigers added three high-end prospects in this trade.
The Astros acquired Verlander before the 11:59pm ET deadline Thursday night for teams to acquire players and have them be eligible for the postseason roster, so he will be able to pitch for them in October. That deadline is a hard deadline. There are no exceptions or loopholes. Had the two teams not been able to complete the trade before 11:59pm ET, Verlander would have been ineligible for the postseason. Here's how Verlander improves their postseason odds, via SportsLine's projections:
World Series Odds
As for the Tigers, they have made it crystal clear they are rebuilding. Not only was Verlander traded away Thursday, but Justin Upton was traded too. He went to the Angels . The Tigers are 58-74 and have the seventh worst record in baseball. The time had come to rebuild. It stands to reason they will look to trade away even more veterans in the offseason, including slugger Miguel Cabrera. His massive contract is an obstacle, however.
Assuming everyone is healthy, the Astros will now be able to go into a postseason series with Keuchel, Verlander, and McCullers set to start the first three games in whatever order. Add in the best offense in baseball -- the Astros are averaging 5.53 runs per game in 2017, easily the most in baseball -- and a deep bullpen, and suddenly this team looks very capable of winning the first World Series in franchise history.
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