By: Will Burchfield
Justin Verlander turned reflective and thanked the fans after his Monday night start, knowing it might have been his last as a Tiger.
It likely was not.
Per Jon Heyman, Verlander will not be traded before Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline “barring a crazy, last-second turnabout.”
Sources tell Heyman “it would take a ‘miracle’ for him to change teams.”
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick agrees.
The impediment in trade talks, as has been the case all along, is Verlander’s salary. The 34-year-old is owed $28 million per season through 2019 with a $22 million vesting option in 2020.
Per Heyman, “rival teams simply want no part of (his) contract.”
There have been suggestions that the Tigers are willing to eat some of the money in a potential trade, and the Free Press reported earlier this week that the team would pay the rest of Verlander’s salary this season — about $12 million — but no more.
There’s a possibility that Verlander could clear waivers and be dealt after the July 31 deadline. But the same financial dilemma would remain. Heyman notes the offseason could “prove more fruitful” for a trade, when Verlander’s list of suitors would likely increase.
Verlander has a full no-trade clause, so he’s in control of his destination.
It doesn’t help the Tigers in negotiations that the former MVP and Cy Young winner is in the midst of a down season. He’s 5-7 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. He hasn’t had a WHIP that high since his rookie year.
The Tigers are not interested in trading him as a pure salary dump.
GM Al Avila said last week that the Tigers would be thrilled to keep Verlander until the end of his career. He added that pitcher’s status as a franchise icon and potential Hall-of-Famer is a factor in trade talks.
“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. 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. That’s something you have to put in the equation, too,” said Avila.
The Cubs have been the team most frequently linked to Verlander, with the Astros, Dodgers and Brewers reportedly showing interest as well.