The Detroit Tigers have reportedly received trade inquiries about starting pitcher Justin Verlander as they look to shed payroll before the 2017 season.

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Latest on Verlander’s Trade Availability

Tuesday, Nov. 8

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported Monday that the Tigers are “willing to discuss just about anything in trades,” including the possibility of moving Verlander, a longtime stalwart in the team’s rotation.

Verlander is coming off his best season in the past four years for the Tigers. He posted a 3.04 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while striking out 254 batters in 227.2 innings across 34 starts. The increased strikeout rate was a welcome sign after it had dipped over the previous two campaigns.

His availability comes as Detroit looks to shave around $27 million off its payroll before next year in order to get below the luxury-tax threshold, according to Heyman. The right-hander is scheduled to make $28 million each of the next three seasons, per Spotrac.

Two years ago, after Verlander finished 2014 with a 4.54 ERA, it would have been impossible to move that monster contract. Now his resurgent performance combined with a weak group of starting pitchers in free agency this winter could make him a popular trade target.

In September, the 33-year-old six-time All-Star discussed how it felt to pitch up to his capabilities again with Brendan Savage of

“I mean, it feels good to pitch well,” Verlander said. “I don’t like to compare anything to the past. I’m just pitching to the best of my ability now. I’m just trying to maintain momentum, go out there every five days, and continue to pitch well.”

Ultimately, trading a player with Verlander’s contract is never straightforward. Any interested team will likely expect the Tigers to take a bad contract in return, eat some of the remaining money or accept a bargain-basement package for him.

None of those alternatives are ideal, especially the latter, which could get the team under the luxury tax quickly, but would be hard to explain to a fanbase. Tigers fans have followed the veteran starter every step of the way since he joined the club in 2005.

In turn, Detroit might be best off waiting until closer to spring training when a contending team gets more desperate to fill a key void in their rotation to get serious about a Verlander trade. It should have a little more leverage in trade talks by that point.


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