Justin Verlander Rumors

Tigers Notes: Verlander, Sanchez, Leyland

Right-hander Phil Hughes has one tough assignment tonight: defeat Justin Verlander and the Tigers in an immensely important game at a time that the Yankees' offense is scuffling. Here are some notes on the Tigers, who will look to take a 3-0 lead in the ALCS when they host the Yankees tonight…

  • The Tigers can't be sure they'll get another equally good opportunity to win the World Series, so they must take advantage of their current position, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. Though Verlander has said he loves playing in Detroit, the right-hander knows he's just two seasons away from free agency. The Tigers could look to extend Verlander this coming offseason, but they’d have to pay him a salary commensurate with his status as baseball’s best pitcher.
  • Tigers executives believe there’s a good chance Anibal Sanchez will want to re-sign in Detroit if they make him a competitive offer when he hits free agency after the season, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports.
  • The Red Sox would be crazy not to make a serious run at Tigers manager Jim Leyland if he becomes available, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. Leyland's contract expires at the end of the 2012 season at which point he could discuss a new deal with the Tigers.

Rosenthal On Yankees, Playoffs, Sabermetrics

The Yankees enter play today with a one-game lead over the Orioles and four games over the Rays. And, it's a good thing this isn't your father's Yankees, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. If George Steinbrenner was alive today, Rosenthal believes he might have fired manager Joe Girardi after blowing a ten-game lead in the AL East and replaced him with the likes of Lou Piniella. Hal Steinbrenner is almost the polar opposite of his father. So much so that, when Rosenthal asked Brian Cashman of the potential fallout that might occur if the team fails to reach the playoffs, the Yankees' GM said, "We have objective, patient ownership." Also from Rosenthal's column:

  • The new schedule hasn't been a cure-all for small market teams like the Rays. Rosenthal suggests one way to mitigate the Rays’ disadvantage would be to scale revenue sharing so they would receive a greater percentage than a low-revenue club such as the Indians, who compete in a division with lower payrolls.
  • A criticism of the new playoff system is Wild Card teams who have better records than division winners are penalized in the seeding of the Division Series. Rosenthal's solution is to wait until after the Wild Card game to seed the Division Series.
  • The AL CY Young Award voting will be a test of how accepted advanced statistics are by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Rosenthal points out the last eight AL pitchers to either lead or tie for the lead in those categories, like the RaysDavid Price this year, each have won the award. The Tigers' Justin Verlander meanwhile leads in wins above replacement and Chris Sale of the White Sox leads in ERA+. Price is tops, however, in quality of opponents faced, based on the rankings of Vince Gennaro, president of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
  • Larry Bowa's interview for the Astros' managerial vacancy is a good sign, as rival executives have worried that GM Jeff Luhnow is surrounding himself with too many like-minded sabermetric types rather than building a diverse baseball operations department.
  • The Marlins may have difficulty in sticking with their plan to keep Emilio Bonifacio in center field, play Donovan Solano at second, and make the acquisition of a third baseman their top priority. Rosenthal points out the market for third basemen is bare, so one alternative for the Marlins is to acquire an outfielder and move Bonifacio back to third base.
  • Look for the Rays to exercise their $2.5MM option on Fernando Rodney. Rodney is bidding to become only the second reliever in history (Dennis Eckersley in 1990) to have a season of 40 or more saves and an ERA under 1.00. Rodney leads baseball with 43 saves and his ERA is 0.66.
  • The Cubs will look again this offseason to move Alfonso Soriano, who is one home run and one RBI shy of his first 30-homer, 100-RBI season since 2005. If the Cubs fail to receive a sufficient offer, they could always bring back Soriano, owed $36MM over the next two years, and try to move him at the deadline again. Rosenthal cited the example of Carlos Lee of how it is easier to deal an overpriced player the closer he gets to the end of his contract.

AL Central Notes: Hafner, Verlander, Cabrera

Every AL Central team except the Royals has won the division at least once since 2007. Here are the latest AL Central links as the Tigers look to win back-to-back division titles for the first time since they won the 1934-35 pennants…

  • The Indians are hoping for modest production from Travis Hafner in 2012, which will probably be his final season with the Indians, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. "If Travis can be a productive major-league hitter this year, we'll be happy," GM Chris Antonetti said.
  • Justin Verlander and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports discussed the right-hander's newfound celebrity in a piece that's well worth reading. Verlander makes it clear that he loves Detroit, but admitted he’s thought about what playing in a bigger market would be like. “It would be fun, but hopefully I help turn Detroit into a major market,” Verlander said. “Other teams are major markets not just because of their fan base but because of the national fan base.”
  • No talks about a new contract for Verlander have taken place, but he’s “open for conversation” with the Tigers. Verlander, who’s under team control through 2014, is intrigued by free agency.
  • In this FOX Sports video, Morosi said the Tigers are realistic about Miguel Cabrera's limitations as a defender at third base, and seem committed to making the arrangement work.
  • Tigers manager Jim Leyland recently joined Evan & Phillips on Sirius XM Radio and said he's willing to accept that Cabrera won't get to as many balls as Brandon Inge might.


Quick Hits: Pirates, Verlander, Camp

On this date 14 years ago, the Mets sent pitching prospect A.J. Burnett to the defending World Series champion Marlins for Al Leiter. New York's other team was also busy that day — the Yankees acquired Chuck Knoblauch from the Twins. So far today we've seen one major trade take place and here are some assorted links to read as we await the next significant move…


Tigers Notes: Cabrera, Martinez, Verlander

Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila and Victor Martinez collected MVP votes this year, but none topped the winner of the award, Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander. Here are some updates on the Tigers' top players…

  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the Tigers aren’t considering moving Cabrera to third base in 2012, though they may consider playing him at the hot corner during interleague play. Doing so would enable the Tigers to keep Martinez in the lineup without subjecting him to the grind of catching (he'd play first). 
  • Morosi also credits Cabrera for putting together an MVP-caliber season after being arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated during Spring Training.
  • One veteran baseball executive told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com that Verlander would be positioned for a deal worth at least $25MM per season if he were a free agent right now. Before the 2010 season, Verlander signed a five-year, $80MM extension that provided the Tigers with three additional years of team control. If he hadn’t signed the deal Verlander would be one of the offseason’s top free agents and might be positioned to eclipse C.C. Sabathia's record $161MM contract (no starting pitcher has obtained more guaranteed money).

Justin Verlander Wins AL MVP

Justin Verlander won the American League MVP award, according to the Baseball Writers Association of America.  Verlander took home the AL's Cy Young award last week.  He's the first pitcher to win the MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992, and the first starter since Roger Clemens in '86.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Adrian Gonzalez, Michael Young, Dustin Pedroia, and Evan Longoria rounded out the top ten.  Ian Kinsler, Alex Avila, Paul Konerko, C.C. Sabathia, Adrian Beltre, Ben Zobrist, Victor Martinez, James Shields, Mark Teixeira, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alex Gordon, Josh Hamilton, and David Robertson also received votes.    


Dombrowski On Verlander, Raburn, Worth, Betemit

Justin Verlander won the the 2011 American League Cy Young Award unanimously and he gets an extra — though unofficial — vote from Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski. 

"He's a real special player who means a lot to our community," Dombrowski explained at the MLB General Manager Meetings in Milwaukee. "He's been a Tiger since the day he was drafted and he'll be with us for a long time."

Verlander would have been a free agent this offseason had he not signed his current five-year, $80MM contract before the 2010 season. There's no telling what Verlander would have been worth coming off a season like this, so it's no surprise Dombrowski's glad to have locked the right-hander up for three of his free agent seasons. 

Looking ahead to 2012, the Tigers want to get Ryan Raburn's bat in the lineup and may play him at second base at times next year. Danny Worth is another second base candidate for the Tigers, who are also weighing external options.

Wilson Betemit met Dombrowski's expectations after joining the Tigers in a midseason trade, but the GM anticipates adding an extra catcher this offseason, which will limit the Tigers' roster flexibility in 2012. The Tigers haven't pursued Betemit aggressively to this point and Dombrowski didn't suggest that will change. The Tigers want to keep Victor Martinez in the everyday lineup, so adding a backup for Alex Avila is on the agenda this winter.


Justin Verlander Wins AL Cy Young

Tigers righty Justin Verlander unanimously won the American League Cy Young award, announced the Baseball Writers Association of America.  Verlander posted a 2.40 ERA with 250 strikeouts and 24 wins in 251 regular season innings this year, leading the league in all four categories.  The Tigers have him under contract through 2014.

Also receiving votes: Jered Weaver, James Shields, C.C. Sabathia, Jose Valverde, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, Mariano Rivera, Josh Beckett, Ricky Romero, and David Robertson.  Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News provided the lone vote for Robertson, rating him the league's best reliever.

Shields gets a $500K increase in his 2012 salary with the top five finish, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.     


Central Notes: Indians, La Russa, Verlander

A few links to pass along regarding clubs in the Central divisions …


Quick Hits: Rockies, Pelfrey, Verlander, Brewers

Links for Thursday…

  • The Rockies have signed second round pick Carl Thomore, reports Nick Groke of The Denver Post. Thomore, a high school outfielder from New Jersey, was the 77th overall pick of the draft, and that carries a slot recommendation of approximately $472K.
  • Multiple sources have told Jeff Passon of Yahoo! that labor talks between the owners and players' union are going well, unlike labor talks in the other major sports (Twitter link).
  • Mike Pelfrey faced the Tigers this afternoon, and Jason Beck of MLB.com notes that Detroit had interest in the righty during the 2005 draft (Twitter link). The Mets took him one pick before the Tigers could grab him though.
  • Interestingly enough, Justin Verlander (who pitched against the Mets this afternoon) was close to pitching for them at one point as Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal explains. The Mets were prepared to draft Verlander with the third overall pick in 2004, but the Tigers grabbed him with the second pick.
  • Brewers manager Ron Roenicke expects a position player to be demoted once Takashi Saito is ready to be activated off the disabled list this weekend, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick wrote about nine players that have stepped up to help their teams following injury. Hot stove afterthoughts Ryan Vogelsong and Phil Humber top his list.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America rounded up this week's collection of minor league transactions, which includes a ton of draft and undrafted free agent signings.