Astros Rumors: Justin Verlander trade buzz swirls as Houston fails to make up ground

While trading Justin Verlander would all but concede defeat this season, the Astros may have no other choice than to try.
Houston Astros v Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros v Los Angeles Angels / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

While the Houston Astros are playing better than they were to start the 2024 season, improvements have been incremental at best. There hasn't been a run of wins that's catapulted the Astros back into contention, but instead a lengthy period of Houston playing around .500 baseball. That does technically count as "stopping the bleeding" but has done little to change the fact that the Astros are seven games below .500 altogether in the middle of June.

Still, the Astros have maintained that they are not throwing in the towel on the 2024 season and general manager Dana Brown has continued to state that he cannot envision the Astros selling at the trade deadline. However, that hasn't stopped pretty much anyone from projecting Houston to move some players at the deadline including some high-profile ones.

One such name that could be on the move at the deadline is Justin Verlander. While the Astros pulled out all the stops to bring Verlander back at the trade deadline last year, there is a pretty compelling case to be made that trading him this year could very well be on the table.

Despite the Astros' denials, trading Justin Verlander is definitely at least getting explored

This isn't a performance problem on Verlander's side of the equation as he has been fine, if unspectacular. His 3.98 ERA is reasonable and he is still limiting baserunners, although his issues with giving up the long ball are obviously problematic. The issue is that the Astros don't look like they are likely to compete for a playoff spot right now as they are 4.5 games out of the very competitive AL wild card race, and Verlander is making quite a bit of money even with the Mets eating a chunk of his contract.

As USA Today's Bob Nightengale correctly pointed out, Verlander's no-trade clause is a problem when it comes to moving him. He was only willing to waive it to return to the Astros and he loves playing in Houston. There is also the issue that owner Jim Crane loves Verlander as well, so the right-hander being actually available is far from a sure thing.

However, there are plenty of people who think that at this stage of his career, Verlander could be willing to waive his no-trade clause if he is heading to a real contender. That does limit his market somewhat and he already passed on an opportunity to get traded to the Dodgers last year, but it is also hard to believe that Verlander is going to be content playing in Houston if they aren't going to be making the playoffs.

As a result, speculation that Verlander could be traded has begun to heat up as the trade deadline approaches. Things could change if the Astros go on a run over the next month, but the odds are that the buzz is only going to increase in the coming weeks.

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