The Detroit Tigers need to rebuild, and they could consider trading ace Justin Verlander. Where does he fit best?
As the calendar gets set to flip to the month of July, the Detroit Tigers are beginning to accept the fact that their season is slowly swirling down the drain. After years of buying at the deadline, the Tigers will be open on the other side of the table this year and could be looking at a full-scale rebuild. Long-time Detroit rotation fixture Justin Verlander is one of the many Tigers who could find himself playing for another team in August and September.
After two down years by his lofty standards, Verlander bounced back to finish second in the AL Cy Young voting last season. The 34-year-old right-hander is finding it hard to duplicate that same success this season, and is 5-4 with a 4.47 ERA. Verlander’s primary issue this season has been his inability to command his fastball. He may not throw as hard as he used to, but Verlander is still a power pitcher and must be able to pitch off his fastball.
Verlander is a future Hall of Famer with a Cy Young, MVP, and six trips to the All-Star Game. Given time, he will hash out the issues in his delivery and regain control of his fastball. His numbers this year will not deter trade partners from getting involved with the Tigers. The $56 million guaranteed to Verlander through the end of 2019 is more of a problem. Still, there are a handful of contenders with the financial means to absorb his contract and a need in the rotation.
Here are the five best landing spots for the big right-hander if the Tigers get serious about trading him.
5. New York Yankees
If Kate Upton has her say in where her future husband spends the rest of his career, my money is on either New York or Los Angeles. Let’s touch on the Big Apple first. It remains unclear how the Yankees plan to attack the trade deadline as they came into the 2017 season with very low expectations (at least publicly). Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, along with career years for Brett Gardner, Starlin Castro, and DiDi Gregorious (thank you, juiced ball), have accelerated their rebuilding plan by at least a full year.
Brian Cashman revitalized his farm system in one fell swoop last July by dealing away Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and Carlos Beltran. Letting the kids play early paid off for the Yankees and they nearly made the playoffs anyway.
The hot start that carried the Yankees to a 21-9 record in early May has mostly evaporated, and they have been a sub-.500 team since. New York certainly has the financial wherewithal and the prospects to make a push for Verlander, but their youth movement would be better served by targeting a name like Gerrit Cole. Cole, however, is a long shot.
Verlander could end up with the Yankees, especially if the Tigers are not blown away by other contenders and are forced to turn their focus simply to finding someone to take on Verlander’s money. Cashman and the front office will have to feel very strongly about this team’s playoff odds to make a major move. A trade for a rental like Jason Vargas may make more sense.