This August trading season in 2017 was more active than any in recent memory. Of course, just because the calendar flipped to September doesn’t mean trades will essentially end. However, 12 PM eastern standard time was the deadline for setting up playoff rosters. So, the Astros got a deal in right under the wire at 11:59 EST. They acquired Justin Verlander and a player to be named later (or cash) in exchange for outfield prospect Daz Cameron, pitching prospect Franklin Perez, and catching prospect Jake Rogers.
Why the Astros make this deal
When the Astros entered the all-star break they were more than 30 games above .500. Getting to 100 wins seemed like a formality on the way to being the best team in baseball. The Dodgers passed them and they went 19-24 from the break through the end of August. No one thinks they will tumble out of the playoffs, but confidence was dwindling from the team, fans, and certainly the pundits. Of course, the recent hurricane has also zapped their energy. Getting Verlander is a huge shot in the arm.
Since July 1st, Verlander is 5-4 in 12 starts. More importantly, he has 3.03 ERA during that span in an impressive 77.3 innings that includes a remarkable 84 strikeouts and 23 walks. As good as he has been those two months, he has been even better in August with two different outings where he went eight innings. Obviously, the combination of these two factors have Houston fans excited. He will cost the team a pretty penny through 2019, but pairing him with a healthy Dallas Keuchel gives them a dangerous 1-2 punch in the playoffs.
Why the Tigers make this deal
The Tigers made two blockbuster trades on the last day of August that will have lasting impacts on their future. Sure, they still have the contracts for Jordan Zimmermann, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez, but they managed to shed over 50 million dollars a season in two deals. In waiting an extra month they rolled the dice and swept the craps table with a magic seven. Verlander’s hot streak likely got them better prospects and the ability to chip in less money.
Franklin Perez immediately becomes their number one prospect (rated #46 overall by MLB.com). He is only 19 years old and has an electric arm. He might be a year or two away, but he could have a ceiling of a top of the rotation starter if his secondary pitches and command come along. Daz Cameron is also a top 100 prospect as well. He got off to a slow start, but has been hitting well lately. He is an intriguing power/speed combination that can patrol center field.
We shouldn’t sleep on Jake Rogers. He was generally regarded as the best collegiant catcher defensively when he was drafted. He may not rank in the top 100, but he has produced big time power numbers this year in the Astros system. Of course, those prospects are nice, but shedding themselves of Justin Upton and Verlander’s contracts was a huge deal.
What this deal means for you
At first glance, this deal would appear to be neutral in terms of fantasy impact. After all, he has a 3.82 ERA and a 4.04 FIP. So, he’s not exactly been held back as far as we can tell. That ignores two key factors though. First, the Astros lead all of major league baseball with 730 runs. While they have been sputtering lately, they will be getting Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis back next week. So, Verlander can expect better run support. At least he can in theory.
Secondly, the Tigers were next to last in defense efficiency rating (percentage of balls in play that get converted into outs) and while the Astros aren’t much better (.678 vs. .675) they are better. The Tigers also stand in 14th place in the American League in defensive runs saved. The Astros stand in a more pedestrian ninth place. Verlander’s deserved run average (DRA) is a more optimistic 3.60. That would seem to indicate his hot streak will continue. Houston fans would love nothing more than that.