By: Will Burchfield
No matter where Justin Verlander ends up after today’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, be it here or elsewhere, he’ll be happy with the outcome.
If he isn’t traded, he’ll stick with the only organization he’s ever known. If he is, he’ll land with one he wants to play for.
Verlander’s full no-trade clause puts him in control of his fate.
Asked after Sunday’s start, in which he held the Astros scoreless over six innings in a 13-1 Tigers’ win, if he considers himself in a win-win situation, Verlander said, “That’s probably a good assessment.”
“I guess that makes it easier on me personally,” he told reporters. “I definitely would not be upset about staying here in Detroit, and again, because I control my own destiny, it wouldn’t be somewhere I don’t want to go [in the event of a trade].”
Verlander looks like a longshot to be dealt before the deadline, with the $66 million he’s owed through 2019 turning away a number of potential suitors. The Astros, however, are rumored to still be interested.
If Sunday was Verlander’s last start as a Tiger, he made sure to acknowledge the fans on his way off the mound. This was something he wished he had done after his previous start, but the uncertainty of the game’s outcome had kept him from doing so.
“I was a little remiss. I didn’t do it last time, just because you never know. This time, I wanted to make sure I acknowledged them,” he said. “These fans have always had my back, and I appreciate it.”
Verlander, 34, has pitched in two World Series (2006, 2012) in his career, but has yet to earn a ring. It’s believed he would welcome a trade to a contending team in a big market.
“I know what it feels like to play for a team that can win the World Series. It’s winning it that’s evaded me,” Verlander said.
The longtime Tigers ace has struggled this season, but has been better of late. He has a 2.25 ERA in his last five starts, and is typically a second-half pitcher.
Brad Ausmus was asked on Sunday, if he were a scout, what he’d tell a general manager about Verlander.
“I’d tell him he’s still throwing 95 miles per hour. He’s got four pitches he can throw for strikes. He can still punch guys out. His pitch count was high, but he went 110 pitches and he’s been known to go over 120. He’s still that guy,” Ausmus said.
“I still look at him as a guy that you’ve got a real chance of winning a baseball game when he steps on the mound,” Ausmus added.
The manager, for his part, is confident Verlander will be with the Tigers beyond Monday.
“I don’t think he’s done being a Tiger, quite frankly. It’s very complex to make a trade and it’s even more complex when a player has a no-trade clause. I’m not basing this on anything other than gut instinct, but I think he’ll be back. I think Tigers fans will get a chance to see him pitch again,” said Ausmus.