It’s the rumor that won’t die: Justin Verlander to the Cubs. It didn’t make much sense earlier this month and makes even less with Jose Quintana in the fold, but Detroit seems motivated to sell. To wit, they moved from reportedly requiring a “big, big, big return w/out salary offset” to being “willing to include some cash” in the deal.
The definition of “some cash,” in addition to what they’re actually asking for in return is part of what the Cubs are monitoring, but I’m guessing their interest has at least as much to do with the other team being tied to Verlander. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press is reporting that the Brewers, losers of five straight, are kicking the tires on the veteran starter.
On Justin Verlander: The Brewers are interested, I'm told, and the Cubs are said to be still monitoring the situation.
— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) July 20, 2017
With the Astros reportedly heating up their talks to acquire Sonny Gray from the A’s and the Cubs already benefiting from Quintana, the Brewers could see Verlander as the best of the remaining options. Of course, that would mean getting comfortable with assuming a large chunk of the nearly $70 million remaining on his deal and with dealing some of the young talent they’ve been hoarding during their rebuild.
Even then, Verlander has a full no-trade clause and could nix any deal the Tigers manage to find. We’ve seen how a veteran ace can be a catalyst for the final stage of a rebuilt team, but Verlander isn’t a direct equivalent to Jon Lester and may not have the same disposition.
Though his overall production has fallen off precipitously, with strikeouts down and walks way up, the 34-year-old hasn’t shown signs of a dip in velocity and several peripherals still look good. He has also shown some improvement over his last 10 starts, outside of that seven-run hiccup on July 2.
It’s possible that Verlander returns to his earlier form and becomes a real force over the next three-and-a-half years, but this might be who he is at this point. And if that’s the case, Cubs fans should very much want him pitching for the Brewers.