While the Los Angeles Dodgers entered the offseason needing to address multiple areas of their roster in order to continue competing, the Detroit Tigers are in a bit of limbo. General manager Al Avila said this week the club was willing to listen to trade offers on franchise cornerstones Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander and others.
Detroit went 86-75 this season, finishing eight games back of the Cleveland Indians but only 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. The Tigers last reached the postseason in 2014 when they were swept out of the American League Division Series by the Baltimore Orioles.
Their collection of talented players and willingness to shed salary this winter make for an intriguing combination in a relatively weak free-agent market.
According to Bill Shea of Crane’s Detroit, there’s some traction gaining on a potential Verlander trade between the Dodgers and Tigers:
I'm not plugged into the MLB trade channels, but a source who is connected to Verlander's camp told me the rumored Dodgers trade is brewing.
— Bill Shea (@Bill_Shea19) November 10, 2016
A right triceps strain forced Verlander to the disabled list prior to the 2015 season. It marked the first time in Verlander’s career he was placed on the DL. The right-hander didn’t return until June, and had a bounce-back season this year.
In 227.2 innings pitched over 34 starts, Verlander went 16-9 with a 3.04 ERA, 3.49 FIP and 1.01 WHIP. He led the AL with 254 strikeouts and Verlander’s 28.1 percent strikeout rate set a career high.
Along with teammate Rick Porcello, Verlander is a finalist for the 2016 AL Cy Young Award. The 33-year-old has a guaranteed $84 million remaining on his contract over the next three seasons. Verlander’s deal includes a $22 million option for 2020 that vests with a top-five finish in voting for the 2019 Cy Young.
Beyond the ability to absorb Verlander’s contract, the Dodgers have the blue-chip prospects to appease the Tigers in a trade. However, that would require Los Angeles to break from their practice of retaining such talent under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
The Dodgers are said to view Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler as a good fit for their roster. Kinsler is under contract through next season and has a $10 million club option for 2018, with a $5 million buyout.