Justin Verlander let things go down to the wire before agreeing to go to the Houston Astros. The Detroit Tigers had agreed to ship him to Houston on Thursday evening, but the veteran righty reportedly nixed the deal by refusing to waive his no-trade clause. After waiting things out, Verlander eventually relented, with just one minute to go before the waiver trade deadline.
Verlander now heads to the team with the best record in the American League and gives it the one thing it desperately needed: another front-line starter with postseason experience. The six-time All-Star hasn’t had his best season, but he is 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP in 28 starts in 2017. He also has 176 strikeouts in 172 innings. Since May 30, Verlander has been even better, posting a 3.24 ERA in that time.
The Astros didn’t get much done at the non-waiver deadline and starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel wasn’t happy about it. Now, he and Verlander give Houston a pair of Cy Young Award winners at the top of its rotation. That should please the entire roster.
The Tigers are reportedly sending a chunk of cash to the Astros to help offset Verlander’s salary:
In the end, Detroit got a haul of prospects, which made this trade worth it. The big piece of the deal is Franklin Perez, a right-handed pitcher who ranks 46th on MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list. The Tigers also received Daz Cameron (Mike Cameron’s son) — a toolsy, 20-year-old center fielder — and catching prospect Jake Rogers. On top of that, the Tigers unloaded a ton of salary, as the $56 million left on Verlander’s contract is now off the books.
The Astros have the best record in the American League by 3.5 games over the Cleveland Indians. This deal made them much scarier.
Houston leads the majors offensively in runs scored (730), batting average (.284) and OPS (.832), but the team’s pitching has sat in the middle of the pack all season. The Astros have the 12th-best ERA in baseball (4.17), and it’s starters rank 10th (also at 4.17). Since the All-Star break, things haven’t gotten better, as the team’s ERA is at 4.69 in the second half, ranking 22nd in baseball. Clearly the rotation needed a jolt.
While Verlander isn’t what he was in his prime, he did lead the AL in strikeouts (254) and WHIP (1.00) in 2016 and finished second in Cy Young voting. He can still turn it on when he needs to and has always been a reliable workhorse. The 34-year-old also has 16 postseason starts to his name, and in the playoffs has a 7-5 record with a 3.39 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 112 strikeouts in 98.1 innings.
The Boston Red Sox and the Indians still look dangerous, but the Astros are now the prohibitive favorites in the American League.