Red Sox Trade Rumor: Move for Justin Verlander too much?

Is this the Boston Tigers or the Boston Red Sox? Rumors have begun swirling about Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander as a possible trade target.

Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe speculated where 15 top players would go if they were traded. Two Tigers were mentioned: Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. Both men were linked to Boston as possible destinations, along with a number of other locations.

Besides the treasure trove of prospects that the Red Sox have to make a deal like these ones possible, the media seems to be giving the rumors more steam because the man behind the wheel of the Red Sox roadster happens to be Dave Dombrowski, the former Tigers boss.

While Cabrera’s situation has already seen its own share of coverage, the Verlander angle is seeing much press, as well. Multiple media platforms are covering the Verlander story, even without much evidence to support the claim that he would ever set foot in Fenway Park in a Red Sox uniform.

Jacob Shafer of The Bleacher Report examines the angle with the impression that adding Verlander would make for a tantalizing top three pitchers for the Red Sox starting rotation.

Dec 2, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Actress and model Kate Upton (left) and Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (second from left) at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

He quotes the Tigers’ current general manager Al Avila saying to the media, on the topic of shedding payroll, “I’ve talked to all the guys […] Cabrera and Verlander and [Ian] Kinsler and guys like that just to let them know, this is just the way it is. It’s part of the business. But not to worry about anything unless I call them.”

While Verlander won’t come cheap, and the Tigers wouldn’t just give him away, part of the burden is explained by Shafer when he states, “Enter Boston, which has a robust payroll, a deep minor league system and ties to Verlander via its front office.” Namely, Dombrowski.

The big selling-point for Shafer is the playoff experience for Verlander, or the lack of quality playoff experience by Red Sox pitchers Rick Porcello and David Price: “Verlander owns a 3.39 ERA in 98.1 postseason innings and has a well-earned reputation as a big-game pitcher. The same can’t be said for Porcello (5.66 career postseason ERA) or Price (5.54 career postseason ERA).”

Well, Shafer is right about how Dombrowski loves Verlander and how the 33-year-old righty is considered one of the best starting pitchers in the game. Verlander’s been a Rookie-of-the-Year, a six-time All-Star, a Cy Young Award winner, and he was even the American League’s most valuable player in 2011. While some baseball experts have noted a decline in his abilities since 2013, last season was definitely a bounce-back year for Verlander to shut the doubters up. He went 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA and led the league with 254 strikeouts.

Those numbers allowed many people to wonder if maybe he should have won the A.L. Cy Young Award this season, instead of Rick Porcello. Certainly, his fiance Kate Upton thought so, as she unleashed her frustration on Twitter about it.

Put aside the numbers for a minute and, if one can, put aside the possibility that Upton and Porcello can live in harmony after the Cy Young fallout. Let’s just think about the fact that the Red Sox could wait out changes to the collective bargaining agreement and sign a big bat like Edwin Encarnacion and still make the trade for Verlander, making three of their top pitchers former Tigers.

Oct 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) hits an two RBI single in game four of the 2016 ALCS at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

How many teams can say that they have enough money to pay a big-name bat in free agency and also trade for a big-name pitcher in the same offseason?

Hey! Earth to Red Sox Nation! Seriously? With the amount of money that the Red Sox are already spending on the veterans whom they already have, where is all of this money coming from to pay both Verlander and someone like Encarnacion? Do the Red Sox brass really want to hook up their train to two players for long-term deals, when they still need to sign their young players to similar contracts?

Verlander is on a contract through till the end of the 2019 season. Four or more of Boston’s starting lineup are young players like Mookie Betts, who are eligible for arbitration around that same time. Betts was so good, he almost won the A.L. MVP this year. Are the Red Sox really going to jeopardize paying players like Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, and a number of other future stars just because fans think that the team needs another big-name arm on their pitching staff?

The Red Sox need to attempt replacing their retired designated hitter David Ortiz by bringing a big bat to the lineup. They also need more depth in the bullpen. The team doesn’t necessarily need a Verlander-esque pitcher added to their starting rotation, however comforting it would be to have him. With that in mind, as much as Dombrowski loves Verlander, it’s a hard time seeing that trade come to pass.

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