By: Will Burchfield
Justin Verlander is back on the trade market.
Well, sort of.
Verlander cleared revocable waivers on Friday, per Anthony Fenech of the Free Press, meaning he can be traded to any team between now and August 31.
The Tigers had placed Verlander on waivers on Wednesday. That initiated a 47-hour window during which any team could claim him.
Had Verlander been claimed, the Tigers could have a) pulled him off waivers, b) allowed the claiming team to take him and his salary, or c) worked out a trade with the claiming team.
Here they are two days later, essentially back to square one: Verlander can be dealt to any club and his contract is still the impediment.
The 34-year-old is due about $66 million through 2019.
The Tigers are not interested in trading Verlander simply to shed salary. They want prospects, first and foremost. GM Al Avila said on Tuesday the team is open to eating some of Verlander’s contract, but Detroit never received an offer prior to the deadline that that made it worth doing so.
“We had not gotten to that point,” Avila said. “It’s very difficult for a club, even if we were to pay down the contract, to add an significant amount of dollars at this time of the year.”
There are still some contenders that could use a front-line starter, even after the Dodgers acquired Yu Darvish and the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray. The Astros certainly stand out.
The issue, on top of the money, is that any 40-man player coming back to the Tigers would have to pass through waivers as well. In regard to Derek Fisher, for example, that simply wouldn’t happen. The same is true of any talented young player on a 40-man roster.
A slim market for Verlander will only get slimmer.
Is a trade still possible? Sure.
Injuries can always stir things up, and if a contending team loses a key starting pitcher in the next month perhaps it’ll take a hard look at Verlander. He’s a proven big-game pitcher and has plenty left in his arm.
Also, Verlander gets cheaper by the day. Right now, he’s owed about $10 million for the rest of this season; by August 31, that’ll be down to about $5 million. Could that reduction in cost be enough to convince a rival front office to bring Verlander on board?
It’s still a longshot, with the odds heavily in favor of Verlander remaining with the Tigers for the duration of this season. But the possibility of a trade, at the very least, is back on the table.