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.