In one of his latest columns at FanRag Sports, Jon Heyman looks at the final hours leading up to Aug. 31’s Justin Verlander blockbuster. The Astros, according to Heyman, had been reluctant to part with any of their top six prospects in trades for virtually any player in either July or August. It wasn’t until 10:30pm ET on the night of Aug. 31 that they called the Tigers to at last cave in and concede a willingness to part with highly touted right-hander Franklin Perez. Detroit GM Al Avila had two execs head to Verlander’s home before the ace had decided whether to waive his no-trade clause in order to obtain his signature as quickly as possible if he ultimately approved a deal.
The Tigers’ initial centerpiece target, per Heyman, was another of the Astros’ young right-handers: Forrest Whitley. Houston held firm on him, but the two sides were ultimately able to cobble a deal together and give Verlander about an hour to weigh whether to waive his no-trade protection. In the end, the trade went through at 11:59pm, per Heyman, barely scraping under the wire.
A bit more from the AL Central…
- Jake Depue of 1500 ESPN spoke to Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey this week about top pitching prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero and the progress that the pair made in 2017. While there’d been some speculation that Gonsalves could join the team in September, Falvey hinted at some inconsistencies following a promotion to Triple-A Rochester. “We’ve seen some really good outings from him,” said Falvey. “…We’ve also seen probably the natural fatigue that a pitcher goes through late in the year, and he’s had some of those outings too.” Falvey ultimately acknowledged that the team felt Triple-A was “the best environment” for Gonsalves, with whom the team will be careful from a developmental standpoint. Indeed, Twins manager Paul Molitor told reporters prior to Thursday night’s game that the team was likely done making September call-ups (Twitter link via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com).
- Indians prospect Yandy Diaz has demonstrated elite exit velocity but also an extreme tendency to hit the ball on the ground, writes Travis Sawchik of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended). The 26-year-old Diaz signed out of Cuba for $300K three years ago, and while he’s never cracked many top prospect lists, his exit velocity and outstanding eye at the plate (14 percent walk rate, more walks than strikeouts in the minors) make him an intriguing breakout candidate despite his age. In addition to chatting with Indians assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro about Diaz’s approach, Sawchik breaks down Diaz’s point of contact and recent adjustments to his swing as he looks to carve out a role on the team moving forward.
- Left-hander Carlos Rodon was a last-minute scratch for the White Sox tonight, as Scott Merkin of MLB.com writes. Fifteen minutes before first pitch, the Sox swapped Rodon out for veteran Mike Pelfrey due to stiffness in his left shoulder. The former No. 3 overall pick is viewed as a key long-term piece for the Sox, but injuries have limited him to 69 2/3 innings this season. It’s not clear at this time if Rodon will need to miss any further outings.
- Rodon isn’t the only injury for the White Sox, either; right-hander Jake Petricka was placed back on the 10-day DL for a third time this season due to an elbow strain, per Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Petricka expressed some frustration but explained that the injury built up over time as opposed to a more severe injury that could occur on one single pitch. Indeed, Hayes notes that an MRI revealed no structural damage for Petricka, but there’s uncertainty as to whether he’ll be able to return to an already inexperienced ChiSox pen before season’s end.