Justin Verlander is finally an Astros pitcher!
After months of speculation, the Houston Astros finally get their man. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride last night for Astros fans with the Justin Verlander news. Was he coming or not? Did he nix the deal? Did Jeff Luhnow get cold feet? Could the medical reports of one of the prospects have voided the deal? Verlander was not coming to Houston.
My Talking Stros co-host Brandon told me not to worry as the deadline approached, there was still time to negotiate the details. The hardest part was the money and players in return for Verlander, which was reportedly done. All they need was for Verlander to say yes. He could have tried to get the Astros to pick up his 2020 option year as part of waiving his no trade clause.
What was important about last night’s deadline?
To be eligible for the postseason roster, a player must be on the team before September 1st, meaning the waiver trade period ends on August 31st at midnight eastern. Players can still be added but would be ineligible for postseason play. Every player involved in any August deals must also be off the 40-man roster or clear waivers. This complicates most deals in August, but sometimes they work out.
The 11:00 PM CST deadline passed with all the MLB thinking that Verlander would be watching the playoffs from his couch eating popcorn with Kate Upton. Not a bad position to be in, but there was hope that a deal was agreed to at the deadline. For example, the Yu Darvish to the Dodgers trade happened a few minutes after the deadline.
Not sure who reported it first, but I saw a Tweet from Anthony Fenech that would alter the course of Astros history. He said, “The Tigers have traded Justin Verlander to the Astros, I’m told.” At that moment, the other details didn’t matter. Verlander would be pitching for the Astros for the rest of the year and at least the next two seasons.
Yes, Verlander is owed $28 million each year through 2018-19, plus whatever his prorated salary is this year. His 2020 option year vests if he is in the top five in the Cy Young voting in 2019. If that is the case, then the Astros will gladly pay the $20 million.
Bob Nightengale Tweeted that the Tigers are sending $8 million a year in 2018 and 2019 to offset the contract. That means he would only cost around $20 million per season. Right now, it is listed as a PTBNL or cash considerations.
Chris McCosky was on it throughout the hour leading up to the deadline. When the deal was off, McCosky reported that the Tigers would get Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron, and Jake Rogers in the deal. It was later confirmed by Fenech that those indeed were the prospects heading to Detroit. While they all have value, the biggest loss could be #3 Astros prospect, Perez.
Focus on Verlander
Perez has impressed this year, and Cameron and Rogers have upped their power game this year. We will discuss these players later, but for now, let’s focus on Verlander. He last started on Wednesday, August 30th in Colorado winning 6-2. He pitched six innings allowing one run on a homer but struck out nine to lower his ERA to 3.82.
Outside of one bad start versus the Rangers, he went 5-1 with an ERA of 2.06 in seven starts. In those 48 innings, Verlander had 56 strikeouts. He is still throwing in the high 90s on occasion, but he is that pitcher the Astros needed. A playoff rotation of Dallas Keuchel, Verlander, Lance McCullers, and Collin McHugh looks much better.
Did we have to make that move? It depends on who you ask. However, if he can give us a spark to get back to our winning ways before the playoffs, it’s a plus. It seems after the trade, people are now looking at the Astros in a better light. Fans should be excited, and I will delve into Verlander’s playoff stats tomorrow. The Astros are a better team.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***