There could be a twist in the Cubs’ pursuit of Justin Verlander

Some snark while waiting for the first practice of the John Fox Farewell Tour:

We’re dealing with just rumors, of course, so it’s just talk, but it’s fun talk, so let’s talk about the rumors linking the Cubs and Justin Verlander that haven’t gone away as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches Monday.

The talk also has included catcher Alex Avila, the kind of acquisition the Cubs need after they dumped veteran backup catcher Miguel Montero because he publicly blamed the pitchers for his lousy caught-stealing rate.

Some other rumors also include closer Justin Wilson, who has a fastball in the mid-90s and averages 12.58 strikeouts per nine innings this season.

But some rumors surprisingly spotlighted Michael Fullmer, the reigning Rookie of the Year whose 3.3 wins above replacement ranks among the top 10. Depending which executives you talk to, Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote, the cost-controlled right-hander can be had.

In trying to connect some dots here, the Cubs reportedly have been reluctant to pick up all of Verlander’s $56 million salary the next two seasons, while the Tigers reportedly are reluctant to pay any part of what’s left. If Fullmer is dealt, the rumor is he would be packaged with another big salary, such as disappointing Jordan Zimmerman’s $80.7 million through 2020 and Justin Upton’s $88.5 million though 2021 if he doesn’t exercise his opt-out option after this season.

But the 34-year-old Verlander has a big contract left to pay, and by the way, he has allowed more than three earned runs only once since May 25 and continues to throw his fastball in the mid 90s. You’d think the Cubs could overcome their reluctance to pay all of Verlander’s money if they also could acquire a young, cost-controlled pitcher because it’s likely that Jake Arrieta and John Lackey will be gone next season. The Cubs are in the window of their window to win World Series, but acquiring an arm like Fullmer, similar to their trade for inexpensively terrific Jose Quintana, is how you extend that window.

The next issue, however, is that a deal for Verlander and Fullmer likely would force the Cubs to do something Theo Epstein has said he’d rather not go near: Remove a player from the big-league roster.

This deal likely would cost the Cubs at least one player from the roster. Probably two. Maybe several. That’s why there’s more talk than action so far.

Even though the Cubs scouted his last two starts, Rangers ace Yu Darvish reportedly put them on his no-trade list. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal listed 10 teams on Darvish’s list, which also include the Red Sox. I guess Darvish doesn’t want to pitch in November.

But wait. Get a load of this: Against the Marlins on Wednesday, Darvish allowed a career-high 10 earned runs — yes, 10 — in 3 2/3 innings. So, I guess he doesn’t want to pitch in July, either.

We’ll always have the Cubs, Anthony Swarzak.

Sign a free-agent reliever, give him half a season to pitch well, then flip him to a contender for a prospect. Rick Hahn does the opening acts the way he does the showstoppers.

Fair’s fair: If the Cubs get to face Orioles pitching, then the Brewers get to face Edwin Jackson.

Do the trade-challenged Nationals realize that simply by starting Jackson they’ve raised their cost to acquire someone you wouldn’t be embarrassed to start?

What’s up, Scott Downs?

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