Dodgers Trade Deadline Rumors: Justin Verlander & Eduardo Rodriguez Remain Top Targets

The Los Angeles Dodgers got an early start on this year’s MLB trade deadline and now have less than 24 hours to find another starting pitcher, with their search reportedly tied to Mitch Keller, Eduardo Rodriguez and Justin Verlander, all of whom are in different scenarios.

The New York Mets started their teardown of the largest payroll in MLB history by trading David Robertson to the Miami Marlins. Max Scherzer was subsequently traded to the Texas Rangers, and the Mets then sent Mark Canha to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Meanwhile, interest in Rodriguez appears to be widespread, but the Tigers’ full extent to trade their lefty is unclear. Similarly, the Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t thought to have much interest in a Keller trade.

According to Jack Harris of the L.A. Times, the Dodgers’ primary focus continues to be working out a Verlander trade with the Mets:

Plan A is a pursuit of New York Mets ace Justin Verlander — a potential blockbuster deal that remains on the table ahead of Tuesday’s 3 p.m. Pacific deadline, but will require the teams to bridge gaps on both the prospect return the Dodgers would send to New York, as well as how much of Verlander’s contract the Mets are willing to pay down.

Should a Verlander not become feasible, the Dodgers may turn to pursuing Rodriguez:

Plan B could be a pivot to Detroit Tigers left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez — a 30-year-old veteran who is having a career-best year and could become a free agent this winter.

As the MLB trade deadline sits less than seven hours away, the Dodgers are in pursuit of Rodriguez, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post:

Rodriguez, 30, is younger than Verlander (40), and has gone 6-5 with a 2.95 ERA, 3.18 FIP and 1.03 WHIP in 15 starts this season. The Tigers signed Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million contract prior to the 2022 season.

However, the long-term deal includes an ability to opt out and become a free agent after the 2023 season. If Rodriguez declines to do so, he would have three years and $49 million remaining on his contract.

Conversely, Rodriguez’s ability to opt out could hinder his trade market and the Tigers’ potential return due to the possibility of only being a rental.

But it’s plausible Rodriguez would agree to waive his opt-out as part of a trade, much like Scherzer did with the Rangers.

Justin Verlander contract details

Verlander is in his first season with the Mets and reportedly become more open to a trade in the wake of Scherzer being sent to Texas.

Verlander is just 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA, 3.82 FIP and 1.15 WHIP in 16 starts.

Over his last seven starts, however, the right-hander is 4-1 with a 1.49 ERA and held opponents to a .178/.269/.230 batting line while collecting 37 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched.

Verlander is under contract for the 2024 season and the mega deal signed with the Mets includes a vesting option for 2025. The option vests at a $35 million salary if Verlander pitches 140 innings during the 2024 season.

The vesting option previously was reported as being an obstacle in trade talks between the Dodgers and Mets.

Considering the Mets likely would include cash considerations in a Verlander trade, the sense is general framework of a deal needs to be in place by Tuesday morning at the latest. MLB must approve any trade that involves more than $2 million being included.

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