The long-time former Detroit Tigers starter had been that final move in 2017 that signified a wholesale reboot. Although many fans understood the organization had already entered the rebuild stage, trading Verlander to Houston just further justified the notion.
Recently Verlander told the Detroit Free Press that he’d be lying if he hadn’t thought about returning to the Detroit Tigers.
“Yeah, of course. I loved playing there, I love the city. I love the fans. Yes, I do think about it. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what’s best for my career. If that aligns with that possibility, then maybe it does.” He also added; “I need to get my elbow healthy first,” Verlander said, “and then I don’t even know what the next steps are. I’m a free agent, and I have no plan. For the first time, I’m entering free agency. We’ll just see what happens.”
Verlander hasn’t pitched since opening day of 2020; he’d later undergo Tommy John surgery that October. The highly decorated right-hander is not expected to pitch in 2021, but if by chance he can make a return for the postseason, he admitted it would not be as a starter.
Verlander will become a free agent at the season’s end. Unfortunately, for the Houston Astros, they didn’t get much production from the veteran right-hander after he signed a lucrative two-year $66 million extension that began before the start of the 2020 season. So when you look at it, Verlander earned $66 million to make one start.
The Former Detroit Tigers Ace Has A Full Trophy Case
Verlander won the American League Rookie Of The Year award with the Tigers back in 2006, posting an incredible 17-9 record. The 23-year old maintained an impressive 3.63 ERA to go with his 1.328 WHIP, recording 124 strikeouts over 186 innings of work.
In 2011, Verlander earned his first of two Cy Young awards, winning the AL MVP award and Triple Crown for a pitcher leading the league in wins, strikeouts, ERA, and innings pitched.
After being shipped to Houston in exchange for Daz Cameron, Jake Rogers, and Franklin Perez, the veteran right-hander won a World Series title in 2017, plus was awarded the Cy Young trophy again in 2019 at the age of 36. One thing to consider. A.J. Hinch is the manager of the Detroit Tigers. He was Houston’s skipper when they won the World Series in ’17. This just adds one more layer of familiarity between the Tigers and Verlander.
Where Would Justin Verlander Fit In With The Rebuilding Detroit Tigers?
So after making it known, he’d perhaps like to end his career in Detroit; where exactly would he fit in with the Tigers in a year from now?
I think he’d be a wonderful addition to the middle of Detroit’s rotation. Although there are plenty of risks involved by signing the high mileage arm of Verlander, we know with his bulldog mentality, he will be eager to prove to people that he is not washed up and still able to pitch after having more than two years off.
It’s a Tigers rotation that already features current ace Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, with a splash of Matt Manning. So bringing Verlander back to Detroit will not only be a feel-good story the fans will eat up, but he may also act like the mentor Kenny Rogers did to him back in 2006.
Rogers was signed to mentor the likes of Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and the youthful group of Tigers. But, as it turned out, Rogers pitched his way into the All-Star game as the starter for the American League at the prime age of 41.
Verlander turns 39-years old in February. I don’t expect Verlander will land a large multi-year deal on the open market. He’s more likely to find himself accepting a one-year ‘prove you’re healthy’ type of deal, and that is one the Detroit Tigers can afford and need to consider.
Detroit Tigers Odds
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Casey Mize is currently +10,000 to win the American League Cy Young award. Additionally, the Detroit Tigers are +20,000 to win the American League Central Division Title in 2021.