Justin Verlander, a staple of the Tigers’ rotation for a dozen years, was traded Thursday to the Astros, according to multiple reports. The deal came just before a midnight deadline for traded players to be eligible for the playoffs, and it bolsters a Houston squad with the American League’s best record but questions about its starting pitching.
For struggling Detroit, meanwhile, the trade represented the latest step in a rebuilding process that had already seen the trades this season of J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. Hours before Verlander was sent to the Astros, the Tigers shipped slugging outfielder Justin Upton to the Angels.
“On behalf of the Detroit Tigers, we sincerely thank Justin Verlander for his remarkable 13 seasons of dedication to the organization,” Tigers General Manager Al Avila said in a statement. “Justin has been the face of consistency over the course of his career, and a pillar for baseball in the City of Detroit.
“He is someone who I believe to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. We wish Justin all the best as he starts a new chapter in his illustrious career.”
In exchange for the 34-year-old Verlander, the Tigers reportedly received a highly regarded pitching prospect in Franklin Perez, plus outfielder Daz Cameron, the son of former MLB player Mike Cameron, and catcher Jake Rogers, a third-round pick in the 2016 draft. Rogers is 22, while Perez and Cameron are both under 20.
Verlander was the second overall pick in the 2004 draft, out of Old Dominion University, and he didn’t take long to make a major league impact. In 2006, his first full season for the Tigers, he went 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA, and he won AL rookie of the year honors.
A six-time all-star, Verlander won the AL MVP and Cy Young awards in 2011, and he went 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA last season. He’ll take a 10-8 record and a 3.82 ERA, with 176 strikeouts and 67 walks in 172 innings, to a Houston team that will welcome his services.
Verlander’s consent was required before the trade could go through, and while it is unclear if he took longer than expected to agree, the Detroit News reported that the deal was not finalized until 11:58 p.m. The Tigers are reportedly paying for a sizable amount, at least $10 million, of the pitcher’s remaining salary.
“He was a little reluctant and eventually made the right decision,” Astros owner Jim Crane said of Verlander.
“We think he can add a dimension in the playoffs for us,” Crane told Houston’s Fox 26. “He’s been pitching really well. We get him for two more years on his contract. We got a really good team intact for the next few years.
“We think it’s a big boost for the team and the city. We’re excited about it.”