Ben Margot/Associated Press
Two veteran arms moved to the heated AL Central race as Jaime Garcia and Trevor Cahill went to the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals, respectively, on Monday.
A few more starters could be on the move before the non-waiver trade deadline on Monday, July 31 at 4 p.m. ET. Some bullpen arms may find new homes as well.
Here’s a look at the latest trade talk on the pitching front.
The 34-year-old Detroit Tigers starting pitcher has enjoyed a decorated 13-year career, winning the 2011 American League MVP and Cy Young and 2006 AL Rookie of the Year in addition to being part of two pennant-winning teams.
However, his time in Detroit could be coming to an end, as the Tigers are officially in rebuilding mode after trading slugging star outfielder J.D. Martinez to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Although Verlander has a no-trade clause, he could conceivably waive it and join a contender if he thinks the move is right.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com spoke with an American League general manager recently about Verlander: “The Tigers are shopping Verlander aggressively, the GM said, and although Detroit doesn’t appear willing to eat much of the $56 million he’s owed in 2018-19, there are a number of clubs interested in the former AL MVP Award and AL Cy Young Award winner.”
Per Jon Morosi of Fox Sports and MLB Network, the Chicago Cubs are taking a look:
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
Sources: #Tigers, #Cubs continue to have trade discussions; Alex Avila and Justin Verlander are of interest, but extent of progress unclear.
Through games played on Monday, July 24, Verlander has posted a 4.50 ERA while striking out 120 batters in 124.0 innings. He’s had an issue with control, walking 57 batters, but this is still a pitcher who is one year removed from striking out 254 batters and finishing second in the AL Cy Young vote.
The Cubs don’t have as much of a need for starting pitching as others. Chicago just acquired Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks returned from the disabled list.
The Houston Astros, however, could use a veteran starter with extensive postseason experience, and Morosi connected them to Verlander:
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
Sources: While #Astros are in talks with #Athletics on Sonny Gray, they remain interested in Justin Verlander/Justin Wilson deal w/ Detroit.
Jon Morosi @jonmorosi
On #Tigers/#Astros talks, important context: Verlander would need to approve trade, and Detroit likely would have to include cash. @MLB
Verlander has made the playoffs five times and gone 7-5 with a 3.39 ERA. He would form a fantastic one-two-three playoff punch with Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers Jr., with Brad Peacock taking the ball fourth.
Ultimately, it’s up to Verlander as to whether he wants to leave the place he’s called home for 13 years, but Houston presents a great opportunity for him to win a World Series. Expect Houston to get a deal done for Verlander before the deadline.
Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray is almost certainly headed out of the Bay Area before the end of the month, but where will he go?
Per Mark Bowman of MLB.com and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Atlanta Braves are interested in the 27-year-old right-hander:
Mark Bowman @mlbbowman
The Braves are still in on Sonny Gray and other controllable frontline starting pitchers
Jon Heyman @JonHeyman
braves are trying for sonny gray, & savings from jaime deal can’t hurt. here we mentioned atlanta in sonny rundown. https://t.co/b4QUN3CItq
Feinsand also noted that the Seattle Mariners, who are still in the American League playoff race despite losing three of four games to the New York Yankees, are looking into trading for Gray as well.
Gray would be a good fit on Atlanta or Seattle. The Braves are out of the playoff picture this year, as they aren’t in the same zip code as the NL East-leading Washington Nationals or the current NL wild-card leaders (the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks).
However, they are just below .500 after finishing with 93 losses last year, so the Braves are in the midst of a franchise turnaround with bright prospects for 2018 and beyond.
As far as the Mariners go, Gray would simply move from one pitcher’s park (O.co Coliseum) to another (Safeco Field) while staying in the same division, so it should be an easier transition than it would be for another teams.
Seattle’s starting rotation has dealt with injuries all season, so Gray would provide some much-needed depth for the M’s. Expect them to land Gray before the deadline.
The Miami Marlins are sitting in fourth place in the National League East. They’ll likely trade some veterans in the coming days as they look toward 2018 and beyond.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, at least three teams are interested in acquiring closer A.J. Ramos, who has 19 saves and a 3.76 ERA this season:
Bob Nightengale @BNightengale
The #Cubs, #Rockies and #Nats all expressing strong interest in #Marlins closer AJ Ramos
The Washington Nationals and Colorado Rockies need bullpen help more than Chicago. Washington has the worst bullpen ERA in the majors, while the Rockies aren’t much better, sitting 25th.
Ramos has had a down year after making the All-Star Game in 2016, when he saved 40 games while pitching to a 2.81 ERA, but he’s proven capable of shutting the door and would be a vital asset to any contender’s bullpen.
The guess here is that Colorado acquires Ramos to be the eighth-inning setup man for closer Greg Holland, who leads the league in saves with 31.