By: Will Burchfield
Is Al Avila trying to strengthen his position in trade talks?
Or is he falling victim to sentimentality?
Perhaps it’s both.
In an interview with MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM on Thursday, Avila said the Tigers would would love to keep Justin Verlander through the duration of his career — despite the fact the organization is trying to get younger and leaner.
The 34-year-old pitcher is due $28 million per season through 2019.
“We as an organization would be extremely happy to keep Verlander here to the end of his career because we want him to walk into the Hall of Fame wearing a Tigers cap. But if things are different, where (a trade) makes sense for all parties, then you have to seriously consider it at this point,” Avila said.
Verlander is in the midst of a down year, with a 4.54 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. But he has been better of late, surrendering three runs or less in nine of his past 10 starts, and his track record speaks for itself.
The concern for other teams is his salary. The Tigers are reportedly willing to absorb some of the cost in a potential trade, with the Free Press reporting the team would consider paying the rest of Verlander’s salary this season.
“As to how much money we would take back, that’s hard to say. He’s an icon in Detroit, a future Hall-of-Famer in our eyes and an original Tiger. We drafted him, we developed him and he’s been a great Tiger his whole career,” said Avila. “That’s something you have to put in the equation, too.”
Verlander has drawn some interest on the trade market, but the Tigers haven’t come particularly close to striking a deal. Per reports, the Astros, Brewers and Cubs are all interested.
Verlander has a full no-trade clause so he’s in control of his destination. It’s widely believed he would accept a move to a big-market contender, but teams like the Brewers and Astros might not have the same appeal.
Per the Free Press, sources say the Tigers would need to pay about $25-30 million of Verlander’s remaining salary to facilitate a trade.
“We’ll be open-minded to almost anything, not only with Verlander but with all of our players,” said Avila. “You just have to keep an open mind, listen, evaluate and then if things fall into place and make sense you move forward. If they don’t, you stay the course.”