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  • Astros acquire P Justin Verlander

    Chris McCosky @cmccosky
    Tigers and Astros very close to finalizing a deal for Justin Verlander.

    Verlander's approval is believed to be final hurdle
    anthony fenech‏ @anthonyfenech
    What @JonHeyman said: The Tigers are getting Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers for Verlander, I'm told.

    The Tigers have traded Justin Verlander to the Astros, I'm told.

    Big haul for Tigers.
    Last edited by H2O4me; 2 weeks ago.

  • #2
    August Waiver Trade Deadline Primer

    by Chris Cotillo
    Though July 31 gets a lot of attention as one of the most important dates on the baseball calendar, August 31 is actually pretty important too. Here’s a primer on what to expect on what effectively serves as the league’s waiver trade deadline:

    Why is August 31 important?

    For a player to be postseason-eligible, he must be acquired by an organization before 11:59 p.m. ET on August 31. He doesn’t necessarily have to be on the 25- or 40-man roster, but instead simply a member of that organization in order to be postseason-eligible for that team.

    Teams can still make trades in September, though anyone who switches teams during that month aren’t eligible to participate in the playoffs. Any moves of substance get done before midnight on the 31st.

    How do waiver-wire trades even work?

    It’s a very complicated, in-depth process that we fully detailed here earlier this month. Check out that guide for full details.

    Who has already been traded in August?

    If you’ve taken a break from baseball since the non-waiver deadline, you’ve actually missed quite a bit. Teams have already swung 13 deals this month, with some big names even getting involved.

    Pitchers Mike Leake (Mariners), Tyler Clippard (Astros) and Tom Koehler (Blue Jays), infielders Yonder Alonso (Mariners), Neil Walker (Brewers), Sean Rodriguez (Pirates) and outfielders Jay Bruce (Indians), Curtis Granderson (Dodgers) and Rajai Davis (Red Sox) have been the biggest names to move so far. Leake, Rodriguez and Koehler are controlled past this year, every other move has involved a contender adding a short-term rental for the stretch run.

    Who could be traded by tonight?

    There are actually a few big-name candidates to be moved, including Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton and Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Justin Upton (EDIT: Upton appears headed to the Angels in a major trade). Anyone who has cleared revocable waivers is eligible to be moved, including (but not limited to):

    OF Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins)
    OF Justin Upton (Tigers)
    RHP Justin Verlander (Tigers)
    INF Brandon Phillips (Braves)
    1B Joey Votto (Reds)
    1B Chris Davis (Orioles)
    OF Bryce Harper (Nationals)
    RHP A.J. Ramos (Mets)
    INF Asdrubal Cabrera (Mets)
    OF Yoenis Cespedes (Mets)
    RHP Felix Hernandez (Mariners)
    SS Brandon Crawford (Giants)
    LHP Derek Holland (White Sox)
    RHP Miguel Gonzalez (White Sox)
    RHP James Shields (White Sox)
    1B Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
    DH Victor Martinez (Tigers)
    RHP Anibal Sanchez (Tigers)
    RHP Jordan Zimmermann (Tigers)
    3B Nick Castellanos (Tigers)
    LHP Matt Moore (Giants)

    Of those guys, Phillips, Cabrera, Holland and Gonzalez have the strongest chances of getting dealt. Other candidates to be traded include San Diego’s Craig Stammen, Clayton Richardand Jhoulys Chacin, Oakland’s Jed Lowrie, Atlanta’s Jim Johnson and Kurt Suzuki and a slew of other veterans, mostly on expiring contracts.

    Who’s definitely staying put?

    Some seemingly strong trade candidates won’t be moved by midnight because they were claimed and pulled back off revocable trade waivers. That list includes:

    LHP Jerry Blevins (Mets)
    2B Ian Kinsler (Tigers)
    RHP Marco Estrada (Blue Jays)
    RHP Michael Fulmer (Tigers)
    SS Jose Iglesias (Tigers)
    SS Zack Cozart (Reds)
    LHP J.A. Happ (Blue Jays)

    Estrada (who was claimed by the Yankees and pulled back), Cozart, Kinsler and Happ were considered waiver-wire deal candidates at the beginning of the month.

    Do big moves ever happen at the waiver deadline?

    Eh, sometimes. Here’s a list of players moved on August 31 in each of the last few years.

    2016: Fernando Salas (Mets), Michael Bourn (Orioles), Ben Gamel (Mariners), Coco Crisp(Indians)

    2015: Jonny Gomes (Royals), Justin Ruggiano (Dodgers), Alejandro De Aza (Giants), Austin Jackson (Cubs), Chris Heisey (Dodgers)

    2014: Jonathan Broxton (Brewers), Adam Dunn (Athletics), Kelly Johnson (Orioles), Alejandro De Aza (Orioles)

    2013: John McDonald (Red Sox), Justin Morneau (Pirates)

    2012: Ben Francisco (Rays), John Baker (Braves)

    Some big names in there (Dunn and Morneau), but mostly just a collection of aging veterans and complementary pieces. Thursday has already seen Justin Upton to the Angels, though, so more big moves could be coming.


    • #3
      Chris Cotillo @ChrisCotillo
      Verlander to Houston a monumental move. Franchise icon to a contender 15 mins after it was reported the deal was dead. Craziness.
      Jake Kaplan @jakemkaplan
      Can also confirm that Franklin Perez, arguably the Astros' top pitching prospect, headlines the package going to the Tigers.
      Buster Olney @Buster_ESPN
      Justin Verlander since May 30: 3.24 ERA, 118 strikeouts in 111 innings. A big addition for the Astros for next 2 years, and rest of '17.
      Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
      Tigers did very well. Franklin Perez a No. 3 at least, maybe more. Jake Rogers excellent on D and can hit. Daz Cameron a nice lotto ticket.

      Sources: Tigers are sending significant money to Houston as part of the Verlander deal. Believed to be at least $10 million.
      Bob Nightengale @BNightengale
      The Houston #Astros got just the man they needed, and now are dangerous as anyone in the postseason.
      Last edited by H2O4me; 2 weeks ago.


      • #4

        How the Justin Verlander trade came together and what it means to Houston

        The trade of Justin Verlander, likely Hall of Famer, supermodel husband-to-be and October-ready horse, almost never happened. It weathered a multi-week stalemate between the Detroit Tigers, who were unsure they wanted to deal the best pitcher in franchise history, and the Houston Astros, who were unsure they wanted to pony up in dollars and prospects what it would take to acquire him. It gained traction on Thursday afternoon, the last day the Astros could get a player to use this postseason. It looked increasingly likely as the sun set over Houston, a city that was ready to savor every bit of good news it could get. And it came to fruition in the minutes leading up to midnight ET, when Verlander declared himself ready to leave behind the only major league franchise he has known for the best team in the American League.

        Deals like this often wind up in the coulda-been bin. That it actually happened – that the Astros received Verlander and $16 million to cover part of the $56 million remaining on his contract, which runs through 2019, for three well-regarded prospects: right-handed pitcher Franklin Perez, catcher Jake Rogersand outfielder Daz Cameron – stunned an industry that long disparaged Houston for its tendency to horde young players. That inclination, of course, had landed the Astros here, with a cadre of homegrown players in need of a frontline complement and a decision to make.

        In recent weeks, the discussions inside the Astros organization sounded as one would expect. Some insisted that the team needed Verlander, price be damned. And others refused to fall prey to alarmism, reminding that the Astros were no different a team than the one that was every bit as good as the Dodgers in the first half. To which the reply, naturally, went: And now? Which was fair, seeing as the Astros’ record over the last 30 games was 11-19, the second worst in baseball. But then October is no longer merely the domain of dominant starting pitchers, and Verlander, at 34, comes with enough risk to **** the price-be-damned crowd.
        Meanwhile, the Tigers, juggling all the permutations of their future, had settled on the most reasonable direction: rebuilding. It was understandably painful, considering Detroit’s success over the previous half-decade: four postseasons, four playoff series wins, one World Series appearance but no championship. Signing Verlander and Miguel Cabrera and Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton to nine-figure deals put them in rare financial territory, particularly for a mid-sized market. The Tigers prided themselves on how unique they were.

        Coming to terms with a rebuild meant Upton, their star outfielder, was gone. He was traded to the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon. The rush to deal Verlander wasn’t nearly as acute. Upton conceivably could opt out of his contract this offseason. A strong market would have developed around Verlander this offseason, and the Tigers could have fetched a fair price for him.

        And yet the Astros always were there, with Perez, a 19-year-old already at Double-A, agreed upon from nearly the beginning as an ideal centerpiece for any particular deal. Rogers, a defensive whiz at catcher who this season grew into a slugger, was a fine complement. Cameron, part of the Astros’ bonanza 2015 draft that included their current third baseman, Alex Bregman, and their best prospect, Kyle Tucker, is the son of longtime major leaguer Mike Cameron and similarly equipped, with power and speed and a glove for center field.

        This was not easy for Houston, an organization built on patience and player development. Every winning team arrives at that juncture where principle meets urgency, and Aug. 31, 2017, after leveraging that principle into what remains the best record in the AL, urgency chalked up a victory.

        The possibility of frittering away home-field advantage and having to face a five-game series against Boston or Cleveland – that is, against Chris Sale or Corey Kluber twice – makes holding onto that top spot in the league over the last 29 games entirely imperative. Since returning from the disabled list, the Astros’ ace, Dallas Keuchel, has been inconsistent. They don’t know what they’re getting out of Lance McCullers Jr. when he returns from the DL soon. And though the Astros have the AL West well locked up and understand the postseason is an unpredictable witch, ready to smite even those who don’t deserve it, the Charlie Morton-Brad Peacock-Collin McHugh rotation grab bag gave Houston as much agita as it did comfort.

        Hovering over the discussions – over everything – was the plight of Houston after Hurricane Harvey. The Astros return to Minute Maid Park on Saturday and hope to bring the slightest semblance of normalcy to an area that won’t see it for weeks, months, years. It was not the impetus behind acquiring Justin Verlander, like the Astros could help heal Houston. But it came up in conversation. Plenty. As in: How cool would this be?

        Very cool, it turned out. About 15 minutes after the deadline, Verlander spoke with the Astros, told them he was excited to join the team and declared himself ready to win some ballgames. For weeks, he had considered whether to waive his no-trade clause after more than 2,500 innings, 183 wins, 2,373 strikeouts, an MVP, a Cy Young and a couple second-place finishes, last year’s of which should’ve been a win. He hasn’t been the same pitcher this season, but his performances of late convinced the Astros: He can be. And their rotation will look a whole lot better with him in it.

        So Astros owner Jim Crane, in the middle of the process, agreed to take on the $20 million a year Verlander would cost, and general manager Jeff Luhnow agreed to give up the prospects it would take, and the Astros’ clubhouse, so disappointed as August dawned, started September in some kind of fashion. The Tigers, who took a hard line on the prospect return despite Verlander’s big-money contract, were rewarded for their position, with general manager Al Avila fortifying a farm system that needs it.

        As the Tigers lamented the end of one era and looked forward to the beginning of another, glasses were being poured by Astros people. Bourbon met ice. Pinot was swished. This was a terrible week for Houston. This was a great day for the Astros.

        They hope one great day turns into another and another and another, that McCullers and star shortstop Carlos Correa return healthy, that they keep home field, that they vanquish the wild-card winner, that they capture the pennant, that Kate Upton joins George Bush as their most famous fans en route to their first World Series win. That for three hours a night, their city can distract itself from the vagaries of life and enjoy this final product that came together just before the clock struck midnight, just in the nick of time.


        • #5
          With Verlander, the Astros go all in for their city

          Ken Rosenthal
          No team, no trade, not even a World Series triumph can come close to compensating for the devastation in Houston, a city ravaged by one of the worst natural disasters in American history. But if you live in Astros Country, and you’re waking up this morning to the news that your team just acquired ace right-hander Justin Verlander, perhaps you can at least allow yourself a smile.

          In a wild turn of events before the midnight EST deadline for setting postseason rosters, Verlander was an Astro, then he wasn’t, then he was – finally, actually, officially. Just like that, the Astros again look like favorites to win the American League. And rest assured, they will treat the postseason as a crusade for their city, just as the Red Sox did after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

          It’s all coming together for the Astros, who also acquired outfielder Cameron Maybin on a waiver claim Thursday. Verlander, who has a 2.31 ERA in his last 11 starts, will join a rotation that includes left-hander Dallas Keuchel and righty Collin McHugh, both of whom have pitched mostly well since coming off the disabled list, plus righty Charlie Morton and righty Lance McCullers, who is set to come off the DL on Tuesday or Wednesday.

          Shortstop Carlos Correa might return from left-thumb surgery next weekend. Will Harris recently rejoined the bullpen, Michael Feliz might be back soon, and the addition of Verlander will enable the Astros to also use righty Brad Peacock in relief. And, lest anyone forget, the intangible: General Manager Jeff Luhnow provided the clubhouse with the jolt that he failed to deliver at the non-waiver deadline, in part because a trade for Orioles closer Zach Britton collapsed due to medical concerns the O’s had with at least one of the Astros’ prospects.

          What happened on Thursday night with Verlander is not entirely clear. As a player with 10 years of major-league service, five consecutively with the same team, Verlander had the right to veto any trade.’s Jon Paul Morosi reported that the pitcher’s first choice was the Cubs, and that he wanted to exhaust that possibility before agreeing to join Houston. Astros owner Jim Crane, speaking to reporters, said of Verlander, “He was a little reluctant and eventually made the right decision.”

          Verlander, 34, is under club control through 2019. The Tigers paid his $28 million salary down to $20M per season, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, and landed three of the Astros’ top prospects, according to – righty Franklin Perez (No. 3), outfielder Daz Cameron (No. 9) and catcher Jake Rogers (No. 11). Earlier in the day, the Tigers acquired the Angels’ No. 9 prospect, right-hander Grayson Long, in a deal for outfielder Justin Upton.

          The Tigers, in a full-blown rebuild, will save more than $130 million between the two trades. Verlander could have held off approving a deal until the off-season and taken his chances on landing with the Cubs or possibly the Dodgers. But now he gets to pitch in a pennant race, and he gets what is certain to be a hero’s welcome, rather than a city’s scorn.

          Crane, like Luhnow, went above and beyond to complete the deal. The Astros, according to one source, already are facing payroll concerns – they are in the $130 million range this season, a franchise record, and salary increases and arbitration raises might push that number higher next year. Crane and Luhnow can figure all that out in the off-season, perhaps by trading some of their current players. If the team makes the World Series, money will be, uh, less of an issue.

          The Astros went 11-17 in an injury-marred August, easily their worst month of the season. Their lead for the best record in the American League, once seemingly insurmountable, is down to 3˝ games over the Indians. And, as the players return home to Houston, they must deal with real-life concerns beyond anything they ever imagined in the nation’s fourth-most populous city.

          No player, no trade, no team can fix the wreckage left by Hurricane Harvey. But the addition of Verlander sure helps on the field. Maybe, just maybe, it will provide a figurative ray of sunshine off the field as well.


          • #6
            Last-minute Verlander deal lifts up Houston

            Astros land former AL Cy Young winner, send 3 prospects to Tigers

            By Brian McTaggart /
            HOUSTON -- The Astros pulled off a blockbuster trade late Thursday, acquiring former American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers.
            The Astros sent right-hander Franklin Perez (No. 3 Astros prospect, per, outfielder Daz Cameron (No. 9) and catcher Jake Rogers (No. 11) to the Tigers, as the teams completed the deal in the minutes leading up to the Aug. 31 deadline for a player to be eligible for the postseason roster.

            Because Verlander enters the Astros organization before Sept. 1, he is eligible to pitch in the postseason with his new club.

            The addition of Verlander cements the Astros as an elite AL team in October and provides a highly welcome boost to a region rocked by catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey this week. The Astros were given the day off Friday after relocating their series against the Rangers to St. Petersburg, but will play a doubleheader at Minute Maid Park against the Mets on Saturday.

            Verlander, a veteran right-hander with 183 career wins, was 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA in 28 starts for the Tigers this year and joins Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr. -- expected to come off the disabled list next week -- in giving the Astros a formidable 1-2-3 punch at the top of the rotation.

            The Astros have set the pace in the American League all season, but have watched the Indians and Red Sox close the gap. Houston's pitching staff has been hampered by injuries the last three months, with Keuchel, McCullers, Collin McHugh and Charlie Morton all missing substantial time.

            Verlander, 34, has a full no-trade clause and had to approve a deal to Houston, which he waited to do as negotiations played out, wanting to make an informed decision based on all options. Since holding the Astros scoreless for six innings on July 30, Verlander is 5-1 with a 2.06 ERA in seven starts. He held the Dodgers to one run and two hits in eight innings Aug. 20. He last pitched Wednesday, a win over the Rockies in which he allowed one run in six innings.

            Verlander has made 16 career playoff starts, going 7-5 with a 3.39 ERA, and has played in two World Series for the Tigers, the team that drafted him No. 2 overall out of Old Dominion in 2004.

            "We thought the deal was dead," Astros owner Jim Crane told "We had tried previously. He's a quality pitcher. I think he's excited to come. He was a little reluctant and eventually made the right decision. We got him for a couple of more years and the team's intact.

            "I think he'll add a dimension we don't have. He's pitched well his whole career and has been pitching well lately. I think he'll add a dimension in the playoffs, hopefully, when we get there. I think it's great for the team, I think the players will be excited and fans will be excited."

            With Verlander and Keuchel, the Astros now have two former Cy Young Award winners in their rotation. Among contending teams, only the Red Sox (Rick Porcello and David Price, when healthy) can also make that claim.

            This deal is reminiscent of the Astros' trade to acquire Randy Johnson prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 1998, landing a 34-year-old former Cy Young winner who wound up going 10-1 in 11 starts with Houston down the stretch.

            Unlike Johnson, who was a free agent after that season, Verlander is under control through 2019 for $56 million, with his deal including a $22 million vesting option for 2020 if he finishes in the top five of Cy Young voting in 2019. The Tigers will pay the Astros $8 million per year to help offset the deal, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

            More important, the Astros were able to land Verlander while holding onto prized prospects Kyle Tucker, an outfielder ranked No. 1 in the Houston system by, and pitcher Forrest Whitley, ranked No. 2.


            • #7
              I haven't been back in baseball long enough to have a great feel for Luhnow,

              And I can see where it didn't matter much whether they acquired Verlander at trade deadline or at this late deadline...

              But this feels a bit forced to me. Similar to trading Teoscar for Liriano just to "do something", but certainly not nearly as bad. But we gave up some talent. My guess... the owner pushed this button.


              • #8
                Verlander fits Astros' needs perfectly

                Veteran's postseason credentials give young team a crucial lift

                By Richard Justice /
                HOUSTON -- Justin Verlander gives the Astros a presence that they did not have before. That's a stretch-run presence. That's especially an October presence.

                This matters, especially for a young team. The Astros already had star power in Jose Altuve, George Springer and others. Now they have more -- a wattage built over 13 seasons.

                Championships are won by talent and teamwork, but they're also about poise and nerves. Verlander, who was acquired by the Astros from the Tigers for prospects Thursday night just before the midnight deadline for being part of a postseason roster, has been a key figure on five playoff teams.

                Verlander has started 16 times in the postseason. That understanding of how October baseball is different is important. It's one pitch at a time, one inning at a time. It's a physical and emotional grind from start to finish.

                Beyond that, Verlander, 34, is crafting his own Hall of Fame resume. He's an American League Cy Young Award winner who has also finished second or third four times. He was the AL Most Valuable Player Award winner in 2011, and he is a six-time All-Star who has led the AL in innings three times and strikeouts four times -- including last season, when he had 254, his second-highest total.

                There was a time a couple of years ago when it looked like all those innings and all those high-stress starts might finally have gotten the best of Verlander's right arm. He struggled like he had never struggled before. Through it all, he waved away such doubts, saying he would be fine, that there was still more championship baseball left for him.

                Verlander was right. He has prided himself on his last pitch of a start being his fastest. Once, in an All-Star Game, his then-teammate Prince Fielder challenged him to hit 100 mph in the first inning -- and he did.

                Verlander's fastball now sits nicely in the 95-97-mph area. His slider is a wicked 89 mph. He's thrown a tick more curveballs, but it's a big knee-buckling thing that has made him even better.

                In the last three seasons -- that's 82 starts -- Verlander has a 3.38 ERA, which is sixth best in the AL, close behind his new teammate Dallas Keuchel (3.25).

                Verlander's 1.113 WHIP is the fifth lowest in the AL in that time. Only Chris Sale, Chris Archer and Corey Kluber have more strikeouts. Verlander has been at his dominating best lately, allowing two runs or fewer in five of six August starts.

                Now the Astros will line up Verlander and Keuchel at the front of a postseason series and know they're good enough to take control of things. Given how good the pitching is for the Red Sox and Indians right now, that's a must.

                This trade is especially important for the Astros, a first-place club and runaway division winner that hasn't played its best baseball for two months.

                That's why they were so disappointed about not being to do something dramatic at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Acquisitions at this time of the season are also about giving a team an emotional lift.

                The Astros are 11-17 since then. They are in no danger of losing the AL West, which they lead by 11 1/2 games. But they've struggled in all sorts of ways, including the rotation, which had a 4.83 ERA in August, ranking 20th in the Majors.

                Until pulling off the deal late last night, Jeff Luhnow's hope was simply to get two All-Stars, shortstop Carlos Correa and right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., back from the disabled list and be whole by mid-September.

                Luhnow hoped that would get the Astros back to their 68-34 best. But he also knew he needed to do something more. He'd talked to his Detroit counterpart, Al Avila, for weeks about Verlander and others.

                First, there were the remaining two years and $56 million on Verlander's contract. Then it was how deep would Luhnow be willing to dig into his farm system. He'd fretted on that part of the deal as he discussed a long list of other possibilities, from Jose Quintana and Sonny Gray to Brad Hand and Zach Britton.

                Finally, with the Indians and Red Sox closing in on the Astros for the best record in the AL, Luhnow got to a place he was comfortable.

                The Astros are going to have an emotional homecoming on Saturday afternoon, when they return to their hurricane-ravaged city to play a doubleheader against the Mets.

                But they now have another reason to be excited. They are a better baseball team, a team better prepared for the postseason.

                Seeing Verlander in a different uniform after 13 seasons will take some getting used to. For Astros fans, it's a transition they'll happily make.