At literally the last possible moment, the Houston Astros acquired Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers on Thursday to beef up a shaky pitching staff for the playoffs.
In return, Astros General Manager Jeff Lunhow agreed to part ways with three prospects: outfielder Daz Cameron, pitcher Franklin Perez and catcher Jake Rogers. Verlander doesn't come cheap — his contract pays out $28 million for each of the next two seasons — but USA Today reported the Tigers agreed to chip in $8 million per year to sweeten the deal. Still, Verlander is now Houston's highest-paid pitcher.
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According to the Houston Chronicle, the deal got done just before Major League Baseball's 10:59 p.m. deadline on August 31, after which traded players are ineligible for the postseason. The teams were reportedly close to a deal ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, but were unable to get it done before. After that date, players may still be traded but must first be put through waivers, meaning each of Major League Baseball's clubs must be offered a change to acquire the player to be traded. Verlander cleared waivers, however, likely because of his large salary.
Verlander is 10-8 this year with a 3.82 ERA. He is a six-time All-Star, was the 2006 Rookie of the Year and won the Cy Young and MVP awards in 2011. Verlander, who has spent his entire career to this point with the Tigers, helped Detroit win the American League pennant in 2006 and 2012. Though past his prime at 34, Verlander is still one of the A.L.'s best pitchers. In 2016, he finished second in Cy Young voting
The Tigers, in fourth place in the American League's Central Division, saw an opportunity to unload an expensive player. The Astros, who would be wise to start looking for a place in Minute Maid Park to hang their 2017 A.L. West champions banner, finally showed themselves willing to invest deeply in a World Series run.
Verlander, like the Astros, has never won a championship. He will make his first Astros start next week.