Last-Minute Bombshell As Justin Verlander Goes To Astros
After getting shut out on a potential Zach Britton trade at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Astros have gone 10-17 in August, limping through what has easily been their worst month of the season.
At midnight on Aug. 31, it looked like Houston would once again be shut out, as it was reported that a deal for Justin Verlander fell apart in the final moments before the deadline. But nearly 15 minutes after the deadline passed, news broke the Astros and Tigers had worked out a swap just a minute before the deadline that gives Houston a much-needed boost to the front of its rotation.
Verlander is on his way to Houston in exchange for three prospects: righthander Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron and catcher Jake Rogers.
The move is a massive one for both teams. For Houston, Verlander is the kind of front-of-the-rotation power arm that it needs to boost its postseason rotation. With Lance McCullers rehabbing in the minors, the Astros now can plan to enter the playoffs with Dallas Keuchel, Verlander and McCullers as their top three starters.
For Detroit, the trade ends an era. Verlander’s 13-year career in Detroit made him one of the team’s all-time greats. In return for trading him away, the Tigers helped boost a still-thin farm system with three prospects who will likely all join the team’s Top 10 Prospects. Perez immediately becomes the top prospect in the system as he ranked higher than any homegrown prospect in Baseball America’s midseason Top 100.
|TIGERS ACQUIRE Daz Cameron, of Age: 20|
Cameron, the third of the Astros trio of $4 million-plus draftees from the 2015 draft class, has taken a step forward this season after struggling to begin his pro career. A center fielder who drew mixed reviews on his bat coming out of high school, Cameron was not ready for full-season ball in 2016 and had to be demoted to the New York-Penn League. A finger injury then ended his 2016 season early to put a final capper on a rough year.
Cameron didn’t get off to a much better start in 2017 and was hitting a modest .206/.287/.374 at the all-star break. To his credit, he didn’t fold and Houston’s efforts to help him retool his swing have paid off in the second half, as he has hit .332/.406/.552 since the second half began. Cameron’s center field defense makes him a useful contributor with even modest offensive numbers. He projects as a useful backup outfielder, but with his combination of defense and potentially average power, he has a path to being an everyday center fielder as well.
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|Jake Rogers, c Age: 22|
Rogers was considered one of the top catchers in the 2016 draft and he’s managed to exceed those expectations in his first full pro season. Rogers’ defense and arm were his calling cards in college, but he’s shown average power in his pro debut as well with 18 home runs between low Class A Quad Cities and high Class A Buies Creek. Rogers projects as a tick-below-average hitter with average power and above-average to plus defense, making him a potential future everyday catcher.
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|Buies Creek (HiA)||.268||82||310||43||83||18||3||12||55||43||72||13||.358||.461|
|Franklin Perez, rhp Age: 19|
Perez is one of the better young pitching prospects in the game. He ranked 32nd on our midseason Top 100 Prospects list thanks to his combination of advanced feel and above-average stuff. Perez’s 92-94 mph fastball can be a little true at times, but he locates it with command and control rarely seen from a pitcher his age. What’s also notable for a 19-year-old is his ability to throw both his slider and his changeup for strikes, giving him three legitimate offerings for hitters to worry about. He knows how to set up hitters and is able to self-diagnose and fix delivery flaws as they crop up. Perez missed some time early this season with a knee injury, but he’s returned to show no ill effects. Perez immediately becomes the top pitching prospect in the Tigers’ system.
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|Corpus Christi (AA)||2||1||3.09||7||6||0||1||32||33||13||11||2||11||25|
|ASTROS ACQUIRE Justin Verlander, rhp Age: 33|
Verlander is not only one of the most decorated pitchers of the last decade, but he is continuing to perform at an elite level even into his mid-30s. He led the American League in strikeouts last year en route to finishing second in AL Cy Young voting, and after a poor first half this year has rounded back into form. Over his past 11 starts, Verlander has a 2.31 ERA, a .190 opponent average, and 84 strikeouts against 20 walks in 74 innings. He still retains frontline stuff with a fastball that averages 95-96 mph and a slider and curveball that batters are hitting under .250 against, per Brooks Baseball. He also brings significant playoff experience, with a 7-5, 3.39 mark in 16 career postseason starts. Verlander has two years and $56 million remaining on his contract after this year as well as a $22 million vesting option for 2020.
— Kyle Glaser