Thanks to Justin Verlander’s age (34), sizable contract and full no-trade clause, the odds of the Tigers dealing the longtime ace this summer already appear low. Here’s another wrinkle, courtesy of MLB Network’s Jon Morosi: According to the collective bargaining agreement, Verlander will be able to add an opt-out clause to his contract if he agrees to waive his no-trade rights. An opt-out would give Verlander a chance to exit the remaining two years and $56MM on his contract after this season or the $28MM left on his deal at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign.
Teams have already been reluctant to part with premium prospects for Verlander, and the opt-out possibility could make a trade even less likely as a result. On the other hand, it might not be that detrimental, Morosi explains. In order to mitigate the risk of an acquiring team losing Verlander over the winter, the Tigers could agree to pay that club around $10MM per year over each of the next two seasons if he declines his opt-out, a source suggested to Morosi. That would give Verlander a chance to test drive a new team before making an opt-out decision and give that employer “financial protection from injury or underperformance,” Morosi writes.
Morosi specifically focuses on Houston as a possible landing spot for Verlander, though he notes that it’s unknown if the Asros and the Tigers have made progress in talks regarding the right-hander. Both Bob Nightengale of USA Today and Jon Heyman of FanRag have reported this week that there’s little to no hope for a Verlander swap between the clubs. Although, the Astros aren’t the only team capable of landing Verlander, who has already cleared revocable waivers. The Tigers are allowed to market him to anyone as a result, but again, there are major roadblocks in the way.
Amid the uncertainty, it’s worth pointing out that the flamethrowing Verlander has recovered from a so-so start to the season with a return to top-of-the-rotation form in recent weeks. Across 40 1/3 second-half innings, Verlander has logged a 2.01 ERA, amassed 44 strikeouts against 12 walks and held opposing hitters to an awful .177/.244/.310 line.