Rounding out our trifecta of trade deadline candidates is ... Justin Verlander?! You wouldn’t have expected that development following a 2016 season in which Verlander was arguably the best pitcher in the American League, with award voters famously raising the ire of Kate Upton by not picking her fiancé to win the AL Cy Young award.
Verlander has put up some of his worst numbers in years, including his highest ERA since 2008, and highest walk rate of his entire career; the seven-run drubbing he suffered at the hands of the Indians Sunday raised his ERA to a ghastly 4.96. Theories have abounded as to what’s going on in 2017. A lat injury hampered his performance in 2014 and sidelined him for a chunk of 2015, leading some to wonder if health might be an issue again. Or maybe, right after a Cy Young-caliber season, Verlander’s suddenly been chased down at age 34 by Father Time, even if a quick scan of his velocity readings show anything but.
Whatever’s going on, the Tigers have fallen almost entirely out of the playoff hunt. That turn of events, combined with Verlander being owed $28 million a year through 2019 (with a $22 million vesting option in 2020), plus Detroit eyeing a youth movement, shoved the big right-hander onto the trade block. Whether any team will take the plunge on Verlander during a season in which he’s been one of the worst pitchers in the league remains an open question.