It’s only November 10, but an uncertain future for the Detroit Tigers has already made this feel like one of the longest offseasons in recent memory. In particular, news that the Tigers will listen to trade offers for franchise cornerstones Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander has many fans fearing the worst. The front office has vowed to cut payroll in the near future, and many are worried whether the cheaper budget will eventually come at the expense of their ample on-field talent. Cabrera has already been the talk of one rumor with the Houston Astros, though their actual level of interest remains to be seen.
Justin Verlander has his suitors as well, and there seems to be some real substance here. According to Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit, a potential Verlander trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers “is brewing.” Naturally, Shea advises that fans take this with a grain of salt, but he also isn’t one to throw out rumors with abandon.
Verlander’s trade value skyrocketed after a stellar 2016 season. In 227 2⁄3 innings, Verlander limited opponents to a 3.06 ERA and 3.49 FIP. He struck out a league-high 254 batters, and his 28.1 percent strikeout rate was a career-high. Many of Verlander’s stats were among the league’s best, and he finished in the top three in AL Cy Young voting. That Verlander’s contract is now one year shorter also increases his trade value, particularly among teams looking for a top-end addition to their pitching staff.
If the Tigers are to offload Verlander this offseason, the Dodgers are one of the few natural fits in baseball. The Guggenheim ownership group has had no issue with taking on extra payroll, and could easily handle the $84 million in guaranteed money remaining on Verlander’s contract. The Dodgers also have a farm system flush with talented prospects, and could feasibly fill Detroit’s coffers with a number of young players capable of helping the team build a cheaper, sustainable winner down the road.