Justin Verlander is headed to Houston; full details of the trade inside

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Aug 9, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) tips his hat to the crowd as he walks off the field after the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we knew it could happen and it did. Late in the evening the Detroit Tigers trade long-time ace, Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros.

It was a borderline soap opera for the final hour of the waiver deadline. An initial report that a deal was in place was quickly debunked just minutes shortly after, claiming that either a) Verlander exercised his no-trade clause and vetoed the deal in place, or b) the Astros pulled back their offer last minute. Then at 11:59 p.m. ET, a trade was reportedly agreed upon by both teams and Verlander.

The deal comes on the heels of the Tigers trading Justin Upton to the Los Angeles Angels for a 23-year-old right handed pitcher, Grayson Long. The full “rebuild” — even though we’re not calling it that — has begun.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians
Apr 15, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander looks at the ball after giving up a home run to Cleveland Indians designated hitter Carlos Santana (not pictured) during the second inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

There is no small way to state exactly what Justin Verlander has meant to the Tigers. Since 2006 he has been one of the best pitchers in the entire league, and for those years we were able to call him our own. We were able to see him win a Rookie of the Year, a Cy Young Award, and an MVP. It was on his right arm that we were finally carried to the World Series again in 2006, then six short years later in 2012.

Over his career with the Tigers, Verlander racked up career 3.49 ERA, 2,373 strikeouts, and a WAR of 54.1. In short, he’s been damn good. He’s been the face of our franchise and even given the fans the excitement of watching our guy throw not one, but two, no hitters.

It will be tough to see a legacy like Verlander wearing another team’s colors, but with the rebuild in full swing, it was the right move. Had it not been now, it most likely would have been in the offseason–though, truly, you never know. The move to Astros gives Verlander the opportunity to chase down that elusive World Series ring and gives Tigers fans an opportunity to cheer for postseason baseball — hoping our guy gets one.

So what are the Tigers getting in return for their cornerstone franchise pitcher? Here’s the skinny on the trio of prospects. Remember, this is an Astros’ farm system that ranked in the top 10 of ML Pipeline’s midseason rankings.

  • RHP Franklin Perez: Just 19 years of age, Perez is listed as Houston’s No. 3 prospect and the No. 46 overall prospect in the game of baseball. He’s made 19 appearances (16 starts) between High Class-A and Double-A this season, posting an ERA just a shade over 3.00. The former corner infielder is currently projected to be a front-line or middle-of-the-rotation type starter in the big leagues. The acquisition of Perez immediately makes him the club’s new No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
  • OF Daz Cameron: Another youngin’, 20-year-old outfielder Daz Cameron appears to have the makings of a versatile five-tool player in the game. The son of former big league outfielder Mike Cameron appears to have a strong presence defensively and on the base paths. He’s swiped 32 bags this year in 120 games at High A ball.
  • Jake Rogers: 22-year-old Jake Rogers is, or I guess was, the highest-rated catcher in the Astros’ system and among the top 10 catching prospects in all of the sport. The former 2016 third-round pick has been supremely heralded for his arm strength and defensive prowess as a catcher. Anything he lacks hitting (he registers as a slightly below-average hitter), he makes up for and then some with his catching ability. But he has really seen an uptick in his offensive numbers from his first professional season to this year.

The rather notable package of prospects Detroit is getting in return would signify that the Tigers are offering to pay some of Verlander’s remaining contract, which is, in fact, the case.

Given the two trades that happened for the Tigers on Thursday — both the Justin Upton deal and now the Justin Verlander deal — there is some serious financial aftermath to it all.

Interestingly, it had been widely speculated, and to some degree reported, that Verlander and some opposing clubs had some mutual interest, namely the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs. Apparently, the latter may have been his first choice but a deal never really gained any traction.

And of course, the deal happens with literally a minute to go before the waiver wire deadline expired and postseason rosters were etched in stone. The last-minute deal prompted a well-executed pun.

So there you have it. Verlander is now a member of the Astros. Detroit is officially in rebuild mode and no longer financially-strained as they were. The Tigers continue to slowly replenish their minor league system with more prospects.

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