Insider Floats Surprise Team as Potential Justin Verlander Trade Destination

Justin Verlander

Getty Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander is seeing his name surface in trade rumors again. Could the Detroit Tigers be a real fit?

Entering 2024, the Houston Astros were expected to be legitimate postseason contenders. But after 42 regular season games played, Houston is still trying to find its footing. If that doesn’t happen, could starting pitcher Justin Verlander once again be on the move at the trade deadline? And could the Detroit Tigers be a potential landing spot?

Jon Heyman of the New York Post floated that as a possibility during a May 15 Bleacher Report live stream. He also named the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles as other possible fits.

Among these four, the Tigers are the only one currently hovering around .500. They’re 21-22 but are just four games back in the American League Wild Card race as of May 15. Detroit is also the only club within this group Verlander has a unique connection with. The Tigers selected him second overall in the 2004 MLB Draft. He eventually spent 13 years in the Motor City while establishing himself as one of baseball’s most dominant pitchers.

Verlander won a Rookie of the Year Award, two of his three Cy Young Awards and an MVP Award during his time with the Tigers. The righty probably didn’t think Detroit would be floated as a potential trade destination for him this year, but it’s happening.

The Astros Aren’t Ready to Make Verlander Available

Despite a surprisingly poor start, Astros general manager Dana Brown isn’t ready to give up on his team. During a May 7 appearance on MLB Network’s MLB Now, Brown said, “I don’t see any chance of us becoming sellers. I think the team is too good. If guys start to turn a corner, good things will happen.”

It’s easy to see why Houston isn’t ready to wave the white flag yet. They’ve been one of baseball’s most successful teams since 2017. They’ve played in the American League Championship Series for seven straight years, which has resulted in two World Series titles.

This past winter, they invested heavily in the roster by signing closer Josh Hader to a five-year, $95 million deal. Houston also pursued starting pitcher Blake Snell before he signed with the San Francisco Giants.

But the longer it takes for the club to turn things around and climb the standings, questions about them becoming sellers will continue to linger. Even if Brown and his front office decide to trade Verlander, they’ll need buy-in from the veteran.

When the New York Mets sent him back to Houston at the 2023 deadline, Verlander had to waive his no-trade clause to make it happen.

What Could Motivate Verlander to OK a Potential Trade?

Outside of a half-season in Queens to start 2023, Verlander has been with the Astros since September 2017. It’s a place where his career continued to flourish while adding those elusive World Series rings to an already impressive resume.

Even if he didn’t want to change teams again, there is a factor that could convince him: trying to win one more championship. The 2024 campaign is Verlander’s 19th in the big leagues. While he’s been on record saying he’d like to pitch into his mid-40s, the righty is currently 41 years old. There may not be many legitimate opportunities left for Verlander to win another Fall Classic.

If a real contender – like the Dodgers or Orioles – emerges as a real suitor, it might be tempting for him to consider.

It’s all hypothetical for now, though. The Astros will continue trying to dig themselves out of an early-season hole while simultaneously avoiding the question of selling at the deadline.

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