Justin Verlander trade big win for the Astros

Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros celebrates (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros celebrates (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Justin Verlander trade was a huge win for the Houston Astros.

Looking back, it’s pretty clear the Justin Verlander trade has been a beneficial one for the Houston Astros.

On the night of Aug. 31, 2017, the Astros defeated the Rangers, while playing on neutral ground in Florida due to Hurricane Harvey, to push their lead in the AL West to 11.5 games. They were already a championship contender, their multiyear plan to stock up on young talent and use analytics to their greatest extent coming to fruition.

It was time to finish their work.

Justin Verlander trade timeline

The deal came at the last minute, figuratively and almost literally, of the August trade deadline. The Detroit Tigers were going nowhere fast, working to cut salary and dig their way out of a bleak future involving few prospects and an expensive, aging payroll.

They traded outfielder J.D. Martinez, catcher Alex Avila and closer Justin Wilson in July. They sent Justin Upton to the Angels earlier in the day. Verlander was one of the few tradeable names left on the roster.

Just an hour and 15 minutes before the deadline, then-GM of the Astros, Jeff Luhnow, and Tigers GM Al Avila came to an agreement. All that was left was getting Verlander to sign off on the deal; he had a full no-trade clause and had to give his OK.

Avila had problems getting in touch with Verlander and sent Tigers staff members out to reach him in person. Luhnow only found out 15 minutes after the trade deadline that he had his star that could dot the ‘i’ of his roster, a former MVP and Cy Young Award winner.

“The deal’s been approved,” an MLB executive told Luhnow at 12:15 a.m. ET, 15 minutes after the deadline, per Sports Illustrated. “But, Jeff, don’t ever put me through that again. We received final verification from Verlander at 11:59 and 58 seconds.”

Justin Verlander trade a huge success for Astros

The Astros received Verlander and the Tigers’ agreement to pay $8 million per year during the remaining years of his contract — which ran through 2019 with a vesting option for 2020 if he finished among the top five of the Cy Young voting.

The Tigers received minor league pitcher Franklin Perez, minor league outfielder Daz Cameron, and minor league catcher Jake Rogers. It appeared to be quite a haul at the time.  They were the third, ninth and 11th prospects among a well-stocked Astros organization. That would surely help the Tigers restock their own farm.

Astros fans know what happened next. Verlander won all five remaining regular season starts for Houston, with an ERA of just 1.06. He threw seven shutout innings of Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees to send the Astros to the World Series. And 11 days later, Houston was crowned the World Series champions.

Verlander has gone 42-15 in 73 regular-season starts for the Astros altogether and been worth 16.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference, during that time. He won the AL Cy Young award in 2019.

light. Related Story. Verlander poised to climb all-time leaderboards

What the Astros gave up in the Justin Verlander trade

Meanwhile the Astros probably aren’t missing those prospects all that much.

  • Rogers made his MLB debut in 2019, but wowed few. He can field the position, for sure, and that’s important for a catcher. But whether he’ll hit well enough to earn a starting spot long-term remains to be seen. He appears set to start 2020 in Triple-A whenever the season begins.
  • Perez was probably the highlight of the trade for the Tigers and certainly has an arm that teases. But the phrase “if he stays healthy” might as well be the suffix of his name. So far he hasn’t.
  • Cameron, now age 23, is yet to make his debut after hitting .213/.330/.377 in Triple-A in 2019.

Cameron was ranked seventh in the Tigers organization in MLB’s “Pipeline Rankings,” and Rogers 10th. Perez appeared 12th.

When a trade happens in baseball, for the most part you can declare the team that got the best player to be the winner. This trade is no different.

The Astros got a Cy Young winner and won the World Series. The Tigers … saved some money and teased their fans a bit.

Winner of this trade: the Houston Astros.