MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Sources: Astros, Tigers talked Verlander deal

Sources: Astros, Tigers talked Verlander deal

The Tigers and Astros have had recent contact regarding the possibility of a Justin Verlander trade, sources told MLB.com.

Verlander has cleared trade waivers, according to the Detroit Free Press, leading to even more extensive contact between the teams than in the days leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, sources said. 

While it's unclear if progress toward a deal has been made, several factors have increased the viability of Verlander as a trade option for the Astros: 

• The Astros' need for a starting pitcher is greater than on July 31, given the apparent lack of progress by Lance McCullers Jr., who is on the disabled list with back discomfort.

• The Astros' front office is under pressure -- from the team's own clubhouse, among other constituencies -- after not making a significant pitching move at the non-waiver Deadline. 

• Verlander is more appealing to the Astros now than last month, because a relatively small number of high-end pitchers typically clear trade waivers in August. Verlander is enjoying his best sustained stretch of the season, with a 2.31 ERA over his last six starts. 

• Verlander, who possesses a full no-trade clause, likely would be open-minded about a move to Houston, after preferred teams such as the Cubs and Dodgers did not come close to dealing for him in July. 

• Even after trading veterans J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila last month, the Tigers' payroll is reportedly north of $200 million and remains above the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $195 million. Because the Tigers exceeded the luxury-tax limit during the 2016 season as well, they would owe a 30-percent tax on any amount of overage this year.

Verlander's contract remains a potential stumbling block, as it was in the Tigers' trade conversations last month. He is owed more than $8 million over the balance of this season, followed by $28 million in both 2018 and 2019.

The Astros also showed interest last month in acquiring Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn, but his waiver status -- and trade availability -- is unknown.

Jon Paul Morosi is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.