Tigers-Cubs talks over Justin Verlander never got serious

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Justin Verlander

Detroit – Before the Cubs made a dramatic trade Thursday with the White Sox that shipped pitcher Jose Quintana to Wrigley Field, the Cubs inquired about Tigers star Justin Verlander.

However, a source familiar with the two clubs’ conversation say there was no formal Cubs offer. No Cubs prospects were identified or hinted at. The conversation between general managers Theo Epstein and Al Avila were preliminary and did not extend to any specific discussion about Verlander’s contract and how much, if any, remaining salary might be assumed by either party.

The source requested anonymity because no trade agreement was reached.

The Cubs instead opted Thursday to bring aboard Quintana and send to the White Sox four players, including two luminous young talents, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease.

The Cubs got Quintana, a left-hander whose significant bonus value was a relatively inexpensive contract that can keep him under team control through 2020. Quintana will make $8.85 million in 2018, with comparatively inexpensive options of $10.5 million and $11.5 million in 2019 and 2020.

Verlander is under contract through 2019, with $28 million owed in 2018 and again in 2019. If he finishes in the top five of Cy Young Award voting in 2019, a vesting option would trigger a 2020 contract for $22 million.

It is known the Cubs inquired about the Tigers’ emerging ace, Michael Fulmer, and that Chicago was informed any price would be steep if Fulmer were to be dealt. There were no subsequent conversations, nor were any specific Cubs players or prospects named.

The Tigers are getting assorted inquiries about one particular player: catcher Alex Avila, 15 days before the July non-waiver trade deadline.

It is also believed bullpen closer Justin Wilson is heavy on several teams’ wish lists. But substantive conversations have yet to suggest Wilson is heading anywhere, at least soon.

The Tigers were preparing Sunday for a series finale against the Blue Jays at Comerica Park a day after Fulmer, and a heavy-hitting Tigers order, combined to mash the Jays, 11-1.

The team on Sunday night will fly to Kansas City for the start of a four-game series at Kauffman Stadium.


Twitter @Lynn_Henning