MLB: Tigers and Dodgers “Brewing” a deal for Justin Verlander?

The Detroit Tigers may be close to making the first move in their plan to get younger and trim salary by dealing veteran starting pitcher Justin Verlander, and they may have found a potential partner in the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Detroit Tigers have made it known that they are looking to get younger and leaner financially this winter, and General Manager Al Avila has also made it known that they will listen to offers on any of their big name stars.

This weekend, rumors have begun to swirl of a potential move involving Justin Verlander and the Los Angeles Dodgers according to Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit. The move would signal a few things for the Tigers, most importantly that they are in fact moving in the direction that Al Avila outlined this past week during the GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona. The second would be that they are willing to move on from the big stars to get younger.

A 33-year-old right-hander, Verlander enjoyed a stellar 2016 season for the Tigers posting a 16-9 record with a 3.04 ERA over the course of 34 starts after a less than stellar pair of seasons in 2014 and 2015. Verlander pitched to a 20-20 record over that span with a 4.08 ERA in 52 starts.

The Dodgers lack of rotation depth was exposed in the National League Championship Series last month when they fell to the Chicago Cubs in game six, when Clayton Kershaw on short rest was noticeably ineffective due to fatigue.

While Justin Verlander is entering his age 34 season in 2017, he logged 227.3 innings for the Tigers in 2016, giving the Dodgers or any other potential suitor the peace of mind that he is not yet ready to regress significantly due to his age.

The Dodgers make sense for the Tigers as a trade partner for two reasons: They shouldn’t have a problem taking on the $84 million dollars owed to Verlander over the next three seasons (with a vesting option for 2020, if Verlander finishes in the top five in Cy Young Award voting in 2019), additionally the Dodgers have a deep supply of prospects that will fit into the Tigers plans.

There’s been no mention of who the Dodgers would send back in return for Verlander, but I’d have to imagine that they would ask for Jose De Leon as the main piece of any prospect package. The Tigers could also ask for first-baseman Cody Bellinger to succeed Miguel Cabrera at first base in Detroit in the near future.

A deal between the two teams would also help the Tigers by eliminating the potential of the White Sox bringing back a plentiful package of prospects from the Dodgers in a deal involving Chris Sale or Jose Quintana who have been mentioned as candidates on the Dodgers’ radar as far back as last July.

The White Sox would then have a smaller market to move their premier starters, leaving them with Boston, New York (Yankees) and the Texas Rangers as the only likely partners.

Bill Shea also cautioned Tigers fans not too get to excited or disappointed this early in the game, but noted that the Dodgers seem like the best fit for Verlander. Verlander does hold a full no-trade clause in his contract, so he would have to approve any trade that the Tigers work out with a potential partner. A move to Los Angeles may be welcomed by Verlander as he nears the final years of his career, with the Dodgers focused on winning in the near future.

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