Verlander's status unchanged by Sale trade

Tigers not expected to deal ace as cost-cutting move

Verlander's status unchanged by Sale trade

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Chris Sale trade has a big impact on the Tigers in terms of their division competition. Fittingly, it happened on a day when manager Brad Ausmus said he'd like his team to strike out less in 2017.

But if anybody thought Sale's trade to Boston could impact the trade market for another American League Central ace, general manager Al Avila indicated Justin Verlander probably won't see any effect.

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Around baseball, Avila said, "I would assume there will be a domino effect, because that's one more guy that gets taken up and maybe some teams now move on. But I don't believe it's going to affect our situation at all."

In other words, Verlander is still likely to stay in Detroit.

White Sox trade Sale to Boston

While a weak free-agent market and the Tigers' desire to pare down payroll put Verlander in focus as a potential big name on the trade block, two key differences put him in a different situation:

First, Verlander turns 34 years old in February; Sale turns 28 just before Opening Day.

Second, while older players can generate more interest than youngsters when they're on short-term deals, Verlander has a far bigger contract. He'll make $28 million in each of the next three seasons, with a $22 million option for 2020 that would vest with a top-five finish in 2019 AL Cy Young voting. Sale will make $12 million next year before club options of $12.5 million in '18 and $13.5 million in '19.

Moreover, Verlander has no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 player -- 10 years of Major League experience, the last five with the same team. Any trade would require his approval. He could waive it in return for an incentive, such as his 2020 option picked up. Or he could opt to stay in Detroit, where he has spent his entire big league career.

The Tigers have made it clear they will not move Verlander to dump salary coming off a season in which he led AL pitchers in Wins Above Replacement (6.6) and strikeouts (254) while finishing second in ERA (3.04). Any team wishing to acquire Verlander would be expected to take on his entire contract.

Meanwhile, the trade market has other younger, less expensive starters available, such as Tampa Bay's Chris Archer, Drew Smyly and Alex Cobb.

Thus, barring a more dramatic change in the market, Verlander is expected to top the Tigers' rotation once again in 2017. Ausmus said Verlander, AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer and Jordan Zimmermann are expected to occupy the top three spots in Detroit's rotation, with Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris competing for the two spots behind them. Mike Pelfrey and/or Anibal Sanchez will stretch out as starters in Spring Training to give the Tigers depth, Ausmus said.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.