Chicago Cubs Rumors: Justin Verlander, Alex Avila Heading To Chicago At Trade Deadline?

Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers talks with catcher Alex Avila #13 during an MLB game.

The Chicago Cubs are the defending World Series Champions but they are currently struggling halfway through the 2017 MLB season. The Cubs are second in the NL Central standings at 41-42 and they are 3.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for third place. The latest MLB rumors suggest that Cubs are looking to improve their roster by acquiring Justin Verlander and Alex Avila from the Detroit Tigers.

At 41-42, the Chicago Cubs are below.500 heading into the second half of the season. It’s not what the fans expected from the defending champions since they were one of the favorites to win the 2017 World Series. The Cubs have a lot of problems including the starting pitching, as well as the offense and defense from the everyday players.

The Chicago Cubs’ starting rotation has been struggling throughout the season with ace Jake Arrieta having a 4.33 ERA. Jon Lester is still solid with a 3.69 ERA while Kyle Hendricks has only started in four games due to a hand injury. The Cubs need to improve their rotation and they can do it at the trade deadline.

Chicago also needs to find a new backup catcher after designating Miguel Montero for assignment last week, per CBS Chicago. Montero was a serviceable backup but he was causing issues to the locker room after criticizing Arrieta after a game. The offense also needs a spark with Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, and Antony Rizzo all having a down year.

Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs are struggling halfway in the 2017 MLB season.

According to Jon Morosi of the MLB Network, the Cubs are showing interest in acquiring Justin Verlander and Alex Avila from the Tigers. Chicago has reportedly inquired regarding the availability of both players but no negotiations have begun. The Cubs sent some scouts last Sunday to watch Verlander pitch against the Cleveland Indians.

Verlander had a poor outing that day as he allowed seven earned runs in just 3.1 innings. The former AL Cy Young and MVP is having a down season after a bounce-back year. In 17 games started this season, Verlander has a 5-5 record with a 4.96 ERA and just 92 strikeouts. He almost won the AL Cy Young Award last year after having a 16-9 record with a 3.04 ERA and 254 strikeouts.

On the other hand, Alex Avila is having a great season after two injury-riddle years in 2015 and 2016. Avila is currently hitting.310 with 11 home runs and 29 RBIs. The 30-year-old catcher is also solid on defense and he can provide Wilson Contreras some rest on several days a week. Additionally, Avila is better at throwing base stealers than Miguel Montero.

Justin Verlander is a trade candidate at the 2017 MLB trade deadline.

The Chicago Cubs have one of the best farm systems in baseball and they could easily acquire both Verlander and Avila for the right price. However, Verlander’s value is not as a high at the moment while Avila will surely get a nice return because of his current production.

Nevertheless, these are just MLB rumors at the moment and nothing has been confirmed. The Chicago Cubs are expected to be one of the most active teams at the trade deadline since they can still win the NL Central. Winning the division is more realistic for Chicago rather than chasing one of the two Wild Card spots.

[Featured Image by Rob Carr/Getty Images]