The Detroit Tigers placed their ace Justin Verlander on revocable waivers Wednesday, according to ESPN‘s Jerry Crasnik.
There were rumors that the Tigers were going to attempt to trade the right-hander before the July 31 MLB non-waiver trade deadline; however, no real deals materialized and the six-time All-Star remained with Detroit.
So what does that mean? Putting a player on waivers, in this case revocable ones, after the non-waiver trade deadline?
Players put on waivers after the non-waiver trade deadline are usually higher-level players with high salaries. Justin Verlander is one of those players and the Tigers are still hoping to get a deal done.
Verlander is owed the remainder of his salary this season, along with $56 million over the next two seasons. That is a lot for any team to take on especially for a guy who, despite finishing second in last season’s American League Cy Young Award voting, is technically past his prime and has been struggling a bit of late.
However, for teams with injuries like the Cleveland Indians, who just put starter Josh Tomlin and reliever Andrew Miller on the DL, or those that already needed pitching but did not get a deal made before the end of July, like the Houston Astros, these players look enticing despite their contracts.
Verlander is not just a six-time All-Star. Since his MLB debut in 2005, he’s been named the AL Rookie of the Year, won both the AL Cy Young and AL MVP in the same season (2011), and won the pitching triple crown and an ERA title.
He’s got plenty of experience in the postseason, having played in 11 postseason series, including two World Series Championships, in which the Detroit Tigers fell victim to the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants, respectively.
He may be sporting a 4.29 ERA right now, but his track record is enough that teams like Cleveland or Houston, who have a good chance of taking their teams to the World Series in October, will be interested.
After being placed on revocable waivers, a player is then offered to the teams with the worst records first (in this case starting with the American League because Verlander came from an AL team) and then to each team with a better record until all 29 teams have had their shot at claiming him. If Verlander is claimed by a team, the Tigers can decide to revoke the waivers and keep him, or the two teams involved then have two days to work out a trade.
If Verlander remains unclaimed, then he is free to be traded (until the final waiver trade deadline on August 31), but in this case he has the power to reject any trade citing his 10-5 rights. This means he has been in the league for 10 years and spent at least five with the same team. Verlander has only ever played for the Tigers in his 13 major league seasons, and it’s a right afforded to all players who qualify.
So, where could Verlander potentially end up? It could easily be that he stays with the Tigers, given his expensive contract, or he will end up on a team contending for a spot in this year’s postseason.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees took care of their pitching needs by picking up starters Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers and Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics.
The Houston Astros could use his help as they’ve needed some stronger starting pitching this season, especially with 2015 AL Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel struggling after coming off of the disabled list. Not to mention that their star shortstop Carlos Correa recently tore a ligament in his thumb and will be out another month.
And as already noted, the reigning American League Champion Cleveland Indians might just be in need of Verlander’s assistance as well. In these cases it usually seems as though nothing ends up changing, but this is baseball, so you never really know what surprises could be in store.
On an slightly unrelated note, 2016 AL Rookie of the Year and 2017 All-Star Michael Fulmer, also a member of the Detroit Tigers, was placed on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation, despite protests by the 24-year-old.
After an MRI showed no ligament damage, Fulmer was diagnosed with right ulnar neuritis. Tigers’ trainer Kevin Rand described what was causing Fulmer’s condition.
“It was the first time Michael came to us after a start and said he felt numbness in his last two fingers. That means the ulnar nerve, something was pressing on it. And that’s what the MRI and X-ray showed — fluid around the nerve was causing neurological symptoms.”
No player can be too careful when something is affecting the elbow, especially anything surrounding the ulnar nerve or ulnar collateral ligament. A ligament tear would have ended with Tommy John surgery for Fulmer.
Fulmer wasn’t excited about the prospect of missing his next scheduled start on Saturday, but he had to concede that Rand and manager Brad Ausmus were doing the right thing, saying, “I am not going to disagree.”
[Featured Image by Jamie Squire/Getty Images]