Verlander sent to Astros for three top prospects

Verlander sent to Astros for three top prospects

DETROIT --The Tigers pulled off a midnight deal to trade Justin Verlander to the Astros, completing a crazy day that included Justin Upton being traded to the Angels and essentially putting Detroit's rebuilding effort in full motion.

The Tigers will receive right-hander Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron and catcher Jake Rogers, three of Houston's top 11 prospects according to MLBPipeline.com. The Tigers will send a player to be named later or cash to the Astros as part of the deal Thursday.

"On behalf of the Detroit Tigers, we sincerely thank Justin Verlander for his remarkable 13 seasons of dedication to the organization," Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a release. "Justin has been the face of consistency over the course of his career, and a pillar for baseball in the City of Detroit. He is someone who I believe to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. We wish Justin all the best as he starts a new chapter in his illustrious career."

The deal, first reported complete by the Detroit Free Press, came after various reports that suggested Verlander nixed a trade or that the Astros pulled out. In the end, the deal came together at the last minute, with the 13-year veteran approving the deal just before midnight, thus ending a summer of speculation.

The deal essentially ends an era in Detroit. Verlander was the longest-tenured Tiger, having made his Major League debut in the Old English D in 2005. He won an American League Cy Young Award and an AL MVP award in 2011 on the strength of a pitching Triple Crown, and finished runner-up in two other seasons, including last year after subpar seasons by his standards in 2014 and 2015.

Verlander pitched in 16 postseason games, winning back-to-back winner-take-all Game 5 matchups against Oakland in 2012 and 2013. His 54.4 Wins Above Replacement ranks fourth among active pitchers, and 81st in Major League history.

But while Verlander revived his career, the Tigers couldn't get him back to the playoffs. And with the Tigers looking to embark on a youth movement since at least last fall, Verlander became one of their biggest trade chips.

Verlander has been under the spotlight of a potential trade for the last two months, and has generally pitched up to the high asking price the Tigers were seeking for him. The 34-year-old right-hander went 5-3 with a 2.31 ERA over his last 11 starts, allowing just 51 hits over 74 innings -- a .190 opposing batting average -- with 20 walks and 84 strikeouts.

As recently as Thursday afternoon, a deal was considered unlikely, though not impossible. The Tigers had been insistent on receiving multiple top prospects from the Astros, but were unwilling to eat the bulk of Verlander's remaining contract, which includes $28 million in each of the next two seasons plus a $22 million option for 2020 that vests if he finishes in the top five in 2019 Cy Young voting.

Further complicating matters was Verlander's trade protection. He earned full no-trade rights as a player with 10 years of Major League service, the last five of them with his current club. MLB.com's Jon Morosi reported that Tigers officials visited Verlander at his in-season home just outside Detroit on Thursday evening once a deal became close.

In the end, Verlander joins a club closely associated with Nolan Ryan, the righty's boyhood idol. And the Tigers get the prospect package they need to restock their farm system and accelerate a rebuild. None are on the verge of breaking in with the Tigers, but all have a chance to make an impact in the big leagues in a few years.

The 19-year-old Perez is ranked third on MLBPipeline's Astros prospects list and 46th in all of baseball. He's 6-3 with a 3.02 ERA in 19 games this season between Class A Advanced Buies Creek and Double-A Corpus Christi, and 10-10 with a 3.33 ERA in 50 career Minor League appearances.

The 20-year-old Cameron, son of former All-Star center fielder Mike Cameron, ranked ninth on MLB Pipeline's Astros list, batting .271 with 14 homers, 73 RBIs and 32 stolen bases at Class A Quad Cities.

Rogers, a third-round pick by the Astros last year out of Tulane, was their 11th-ranked prospect. Like James McCann, he's a defense-first catcher who has shown power potential, batting .263 with 18 homers and 70 RBIs between Class A stops at Quad Cities and Buies Creek.

"All three players are outstanding athletes, and they greatly bolster our minor league system," Avila said. "Perez was the headliner for us, cementing himself as a dominant force in each of his three years in professional baseball.

"Daz Cameron is someone that we view as one of the highest-ceiling players in the minors. Cameron is a guy that slipped in the draft because of signability concerns, but has always shown flashes of his dad's play.

"Rogers plays beyond his years, demonstrating solid pop in his bat while having above-average plate discipline, and our scouts have him rated as a reliable receiver behind the plate with an above-average arm."

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