Why (and when) Justin Verlander will return to the Detroit Tigers

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers
Sep 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) smiles from the dugout before the game against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Game called for bad weather after 5 innings. Tigers win 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Friday was a very difficult day for many Detroit Tigers fans as they woke up to the news of Justin Verlander being traded to the Houston Astros.

Though most of us are still a bit shocked that Verlander will be playing in a different uniform, it was a deal general manager Al Avila had to make. After all, Avila has made it clear the team is shifting gears and reducing payroll is just part of the equation as he looks to begin rebuilding the Tigers.

By dealing JV to the Astros, not only will the Tigers save a huge chunk of cash but they also received three decent prospects to add to their farm system. Avila has noted that his plan is to take more of a ‘home-grown’ approach and has said the Tigers will be committing more resources to scouting and player development. Trading JV could be just the start of what will lead into an interesting offseason.

Goodbye to a legend

After finding out Verlander had been traded, Tigers fans all over the world started expressing their gratitude to one of the best to ever wear the Old English D. Whether it was via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any other form of social media, there was no shortage of love being shown for the long-time Tigers ace.

Verlander himself took the time to post a heartfelt message on Instagram, thanking Tigers fans for their support over the years. Throughout his career, JV has said time and time again how much he loves Detroit and how much he enjoyed playing for the Tigers. No matter what ends up happening with the remainder of his career, Justin Verlander will ALWAYS be remembered as a Detroit Tiger.

Verlander will come home

For the next couple of seasons, if Tigers fans want to watch Verlander, they will have to watch him pitch for the Astros. Some of those fans will surely root against him but the vast majority will openly support JV each and every time he takes the mound. Heck, I would not be surprised at all if there is even a portion of the Tigers fan base who will cheer on Verlander when he pitches against Detroit, especially if they are having a losing season.

But mark my words, Justin Verlander will come back to the Detroit Tigers.

Detroit loves Verlander and he loves Detroit. It’s where he has spent his entire career since being drafted by the Tigers in 2004. It’s where he won a Rookie of the Year award, a Cy Young award (should be two), and a Most Valuable Player award. It’s where he led a team to the MLB Playoffs five times and to the World Series twice, only to fall short of winning it all.

Sure, JV will spend the next two seasons in Houston playing or a very talented team, hoping to lead them to their first World Championship in team history. And guess what, he will win a World Series, maybe even two of them. (Yes, the Astros can beat the Dodgers)

But when his contract is up following the 2019 season, Verlander will become a free agent and that’s when the Tigers will come calling.

At that point, Detroit will almost certainly have a very young pitching staff and bringing back Verlander, not only to help win baseball games, but to help mentor the young arms in the rotation, would be invaluable.

You may be sad that JV is no longer with the Tigers, we all are. But come 2020, Justin Verlander will be back wearing the Old English D. Who knows, maybe he will end up leading the Tigers to a World Series title after all.