Needless to say, 2017 has been a frustrating season for this Tigers/Cubs fan. Watching the defending World Series champions flounder around .500 all year has been like watching Leo Dicaprio struggling to get into his Lamborghini in Wolf of Wall Street. Meanwhile, the Tigers are like a driverless dump truck about to careen into a bridge abutment. While they are in very different situations, neither club looks like they’re headed in the right direction. But there’s a chance each can help the other to get to where they want to be.
With defending that championship at the forefront of their minds, the Cubs are only two games back in the division, but are in desperate need of controllable starting pitching if they hope to get back to the playoffs, let alone do some damage once there. And with the unceremonious exodus of Miguel Montero, a veteran catcher is now on their laundry list of needs. Fortunately, they still have a treasure trove of assets to offer to nab almost anyone they want—for the right price—to get them back on track.
Detroit is in the opposite position. Owning the fourth highest payroll in baseball, the Tigers have the eighth worst record. Couple that with the years of overharvesting and neglect that has yielded a chronically depleted farm system and it’s obvious a rebuild is long overdue. But that can all change quickly with the right moves at the fast-approaching trade deadline. If GM Al Avila can dump some payroll while acquiring impactful young talent, the Tigers could be back in business sooner than once might think.
It just so happens the Tigers and Cubs have exactly with the other needs for the present and future and have been linked as potential trade partners in recent reports. Alex Avila is an obvious fit to fill the void for the Cubs as a left-handed, veteran, backup catcher on a one-year deal with Detroit. What could make things even more interesting is the idea of a blockbuster deal involving both Avila and Justin Verlander.
Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reported this week that most front-office executives believe Verlander will be on the trading block as soon as this week. With two years and $56M left on his contract, Verlander would be the controllable pitcher the Cubs are looking for at a fairly reasonable price as the Tigers would undoubtedly eat some of that money. While his numbers are down from their lofty heights so far this year, he finished second in AL Cy Young voting in 2016 and has legitimate potential to return to form with a change of scenery in the National League:
One [executive] believes a return to a competitive team would reinvigorate Verlander and compared him to Randy Johnson in 1998. At 34 years old, Johnson had a 4.33 ERA with Seattle. After a deadline deal to Houston, he went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA and struck out 116 in 84 1/3 innings.
Of course, JV would have to agree to waive his no-trade clause, but moving from Michigan to Chicago from a rebuilding project to a perennial contender at the backend of his illustrious—yet championship-less—career should be more than enough to entice him and his swimsuit model fiancé Kate Upton to sign on the dotted line. It’s not hard to picture Justin and Kate galavanting on Gold Coast beaches (well, at least Kate for sure):
But would the Cubs be willing to part with top-prospect OF Eloy Jimenez and 1B/3B Jeimer Candelario? I say yes since both are essentially blocked for years to come at the major league level by stars like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo and an already crowded outfield. The time to win is now and if the Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman deal is any example, Theo Epstein & Co. aren’t afraid to make bold moves. The deal would seem to make a lot of sense for both sides. The Tigers need help in a lot of areas, but a long-term replacement for free-agent-to-be J.D. Martinez is paramount and Jimenez would certainly fit that bill. And Candelario would be the heir apparent as Miguel Cabrera ages away from 1B and into a permanent DH role.
So Al and Theo, in the immortal words of Jordan Belfort, “Pick up the phone and start dialing! NOW LET’S KNOCK THIS MOTHERFUCKER OUT OF THE PARK!!!”