Posted on July 4, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
After teasing a potential fire sale last winter without much action, the Detroit Tigers are once again indicating that they are ready to trade away veteran players. Everyone appears to be on the table in a potential trade, including former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. There is already talk linking Verlander to other teams, most notably the Chicago Cubs. However, the righty won’t come cheap. Buster Olney reports that the Tigers are looking for a “big, big, big return” if they were to trade Verlander.
It’s not surprising that the Tigers would be asking for a lot in exchange for Verlander. But there are a number of factors at play. First and foremost, there’s Verlander’s salary. He’s making $28 million this year and will make the same salary each of the next two years as well. If he has a top-five Cy Young finish in 2019, his $22 million vesting option for 2020 would kick in, adding to the total amount left on his contract.
The Tigers could certainly ask for an impressive bounty of players in return for Verlander. But to do that, they would likely have to eat a fair chunk of the money left on Verlander’s contract. If Detroit is looking for a salary dump, it’s hard to envision a team giving up top prospects and paying all the money Verlander is still owed.
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Another factor that could hurt Detroit in trade negotiations is Verlander’s performance this season. In 17 starts this year, Verlander is 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA. That’s a huge drop-off from his 3.02 ERA last season, earning a controversial second place in the Cy Young voting. Verlander has bounced back from down years before. This creates hope that he can do the same either the second half of this season or in 2018. But at age 34, there’s less of a guarantee that Verlander will return to Cy Young form.
Finally, there’s the matter of Verlander’s no-trade clause. The righty can veto a trade to any team. He’s indicated that he may be willing to waive his no-trade clause in order to go to a contender. But he would also have a lot of leverage as far as his 2020 option or a potential extension. In short, Verlander has the power to dictate where he gets traded and the circumstances around the trade.
Nevertheless, the Tigers are open to trading away Verlander, among other players, and have no problem putting a high price tag on him. A high asking price will make it a little more difficult to trade Verlander, but the Tigers appear more than willing to try. They know that it only takes one team that’s willing to meet their price in order to make a deal.
At this point, the Tigers don’t appear to have had any advanced talks regarding Verlander. However, several teams have already inquired about Verlander’s availability, and some see it as a matter of when, not if, Verlander is traded this summer. Despite the high price tag on Verlander, the Tigers appear ready and willing to trade their ace, making him one of the most intriguing trade chips to watch heading toward the trade deadline.