By the time the week of the non-waiver trade deadline (end of July, all trades are freely available), we felt pretty confident that the Cubs were having, or had had, serious discussions with the Tigers about Justin Verlander. It was a complicated situation, though, as Verlander was fantastic in 2016, but had been way down in 2017 so far, at age 34 no less. He was making $28 million in 2018 and 2019, plus the healthy amount he was still owed in 2017.
Fast-forward to today, and we discussed a mystery team (Mystery Team) being in on Verlander for the waiver trade deadline, which is tomorrow afternoon. If you want a player to be eligible for your playoff roster, he’s gotta be in your organization by midnight eastern tomorrow (subject to the waiver trade rules).
My gut says the Cubs wouldn’t pull the trigger on Verlander – who has already cleared waivers – right now unless they really wanted him in 2018 and 2019 (at the right price, I certainly want the Cubs to want him), and believed they would have a much better chance at actually getting him if they pulled it off right now. Then, even though it creates a rotation glut, anything he gives you this year is a bonus.
Well, maybe those discussions are actually happening?
Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs and Tigers “have remained in constant conversations about the 34-year-old Verlander dating back to early July, according to sources.” Further, the teams are still evaluating each others’ systems, according to Levine. (Note: the waiver rules apply only to players on the 40-man roster.)
It remains most likely, in my opinion at least, that these talks don’t get serious until the offseason. Remember, too: Verlander has no-trade rights, so he’ll have a say in where he goes (and could demand an extension, or a guarantee of his $22 million 2020 option). That may artificially limit his market to teams he deems attractive. Would that include the Cubs? We’ll see.
As for today and tomorrow, we’ll continue to monitor.