The Verlander trade: Jeff Luhnow’s finest moment


It was best described on the radio this morning thusly, “Astros GM Jeff Luhnow should be peacocking (no relation to Brad) this morning.” The deal that had died and risen more times than Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees combined was dragged kicking and screaming across the finish line just before Cinderella’s clock reached midnight. This is a defining deal for both Luhnow and owner Jim Crane and ticks off a bunch of the boxes that were question marks for the fans.

Will Jim Crane open his wallet at the critical time? Heck, he has opened it multiple times since the original Scrooge McDuck days of his ownership (Brian McCann, Josh Reddick, Carlos Beltran, etc), but this one even with $16 million coming back from the Tigers will cost him about $45 million over the next two seasons and possibly $67 million over the next three.

Was Luhnow’s love of his prospects going to derail the deal? No, he drew the red line in the sand on not including Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman, Francis Martes and Derek Fisher, but by holding on until the end the Tigers accepted a more palatable deal. The Astros still dealt some high prospects, #3 RHP Franklin Perez, #9 OF Daz Cameron and #11 C Jake Rogers, but they did not have to send the very best of their prospects and no one who has proven it at the very highest levels of the minors.

Did Luhnow think the Astros had the starting pitching firepower to plow through the playoffs? No matter what he said, no matter what he intimated, he definitely knew he could use another dependable big arm in the rotation and one with the ability to chew up innings, which the current rotation has struggled with lately.

So what are the Astros getting here? There are pluses and minuses with Verlander as with almost any pitcher available. He is 34 years old with a 183-114 record and a career 3.49 ERA. He is one season removed from a Cy Young runner-up performance in 2016. His overall numbers in 2017 are just OK – 3.82 ERA with a 10-8 record over 172 innings and a decent 1.279 WHIP. However, he has been pitching at a high level since the beginning of July in lowering his ERA from 4.96 to 3.49. In his last 11 starts he has a sparkling 2.31 ERA and just as important he has averaged 6.73 IP / start over that time.

Verlander’s post season performance has been uneven to say the least. He has appeared in 11 post season series over the years and in seven of them he has posted an ERA over 5.00. In the other four he has posted an ERA under 1.20. These are all small samples of course, but not very comforting.

So…..

  • Are you good with this trade? Did they give up more or less than you were hoping for JV?
  • Has Jeff Luhnow won you over in showing his ability to make the big deal?
  • Do you think this trade will fire up the team down the stretch?
  • Do you think this trade makes the Astros the AL favorite to make the World Series?
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107 comments on “The Verlander trade: Jeff Luhnow’s finest moment

  1. 1. Yes. Those were three prospects I liked, but getting Verlander for the next couple years offsets any concerns I have.
    2. Incomplete. We don’t have all the information. What would he have had to surrender for David Price in 2015? What about for Sonny Gray this year?
    3. I mentioned it the other day – getting McCann was a huge boost to this team. Beltran and Reddick are also guys who improve the team’s fire. Verlander kicks it up another notch.
    4. No, I think their offense has to get back on track with consistency before we can start talking about being the favorite.

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  2. Wahoo being promoting this trade for months. I think JL did great on what we gave up. I like Cameron he is coming around but all 3 are prospects and we now have a bulldog in the rotation for the playoffs and 2018.

    I am going to say this so to save any told you so’s. If Verlander doesn’t be that piece that gets us there or just is mediocre, I’m still good with Crane and UL having the guts to make the deal and give u s a shot in the arm….

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Are you good with this trade? Did they give up more or less than you were hoping for JV?”

    I am fine. Not ecstatic. Not depressed. Not angry. Just ‘fine’. He was the best pitcher available – and can be really, really good. He is just not really, really good most of the time. Still, we needed another strong arm, and he has one.

    “Has Jeff Luhnow won you over in showing his ability to make the big deal?”

    Not really. But that is not his job. His job is to bring people to the stadium, the merchandise stores, and the TV screen. This is a good move in that department

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  4. “Do you think this trade will fire up the team down the stretch?”

    I hope so. We did not really need JV’s talent; we have plenty. What we desperately need is some veteran leadership on the pitching staff – and in the clubhouse. We have, quite frankly, not seen much leadership on this team, even with grizzly guys like Beltran and McCann in the dugout. Our bunch tends to whine. They come off as extremely immature emotionally [of course, for the most part that can be explained by their youth]. They tend to blow up twitter with insulting comments to and about other teams; that’s their business. But then when they get on the field they do not back up their brash talk with inspired play and clutch performances. Hopefully, Justin Verlander – who’s seen a thing or two in this league – can finally bring a little ‘gravitas’, and focus less on talking trash and more on getting the job done on the field.

    “Do you think this trade makes the Astros the AL favorite to make the World Series?”

    No. The only thing that will do that is for the Astros to tear through the month of September like Sherman tore through Georgia.

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  5. I have some thoughts:
    * Had LMJ blown through his rehab starts with no hiccups and Dallas Keuchel not have given up six runs against Texas, we might not have done this deal. Luhnow could not take a chance on those two pitchers not being at their best after seeing Fiers get trounced on Tuesday.
    * Verlander gives LMJ more time to get right.
    * I think Verlander would substitute wonderfully in Fiers spot in the rotation. That move would signal to me that Houston wants to get back to being dominant.
    * Will having the added bullpen arms like Hoyt, Sipp and Feliz with September additions convince Hinch to keep Peacock in the rotation and move Fiers to the pen?
    * Was Reddick truly speaking for the majority of the team when he said they were looking for the FO to add at the deadline? Will this pick up the team?
    * Any idea how much additional talent the Astros will have added to this team if they get a Correa, a Maybin and a Verlander in the same weekend?
    * I have never actually seen Perez, Cameron or Rogers play a game of baseball. I have seen Justin Verlander pitch a lot.
    * Why do I have a feeling Collin McHugh is going to go on a roll this month?
    * Fresno was eliminated from the playoffs last night.

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  6. Outstanding trade!! I like the Maybin (translate pinch runner extraordinaire) transaction too. The best part of the trade is holding onto certain prospects, namely Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker.

    So there is a two year window to get it done. Hopefully Verlander will still have trade value, or that $22mil pop will force the club to make some very difficult decisions. But that is then, and this is now.

    Good job Luhnow. I am stoked!!

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    • The plus side is that the $22 million option as I read it only happens if he is in the top 5 in the Cy Young race in 2019, so he definitely would have both trade value and real value if that is true.

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      • If he is in the top 5 in CY voting in 2019, why wouldn’t you want him in 2020 for $22 million. By that time Keuchel would have moved on and the Astros would have a bunch of young pitchers who could learn a lot from him. $22 mil is a good deal for an ace, especially if you have already managed to win a WS with him.

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  7. If you ask me if I was a gm would I want to pay 54 or so million and give up 3 fairly highly rated prospects for a verlander in the later part of his career I would say no, but in context of what message it sends to the players and fans and what it does to this playoff push it’s enormous. I love the move.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. To sum up the answers to your questions. this makes the team better for this and next year at least. And it does not wreck anything in the distant future. Other than worrying about Crane’s money, there is nothing to worry about. PLAY BALL !!!

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  9. 1:05am: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that Verlander will retain full no-trade protection now as a member of the Astros (Twitter links). Additionally, the Astros have agreed to waive the vesting option for the 2020 season. Verlander would’ve needed a top five finish in the 2019 Cy Young voting to see that $22MM option vest, though it stands to reason that if he were to finish in the top five that season, he’d be able to earn more on the open market in free agency. Nightengale also confirms that Houston will receive a PTBNL in the deal as opposed to further cash considerations. (Houston will still receive the $16MM from the Tigers to help pay down some of Verlander’s salary.

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  10. He’s a ‘Pitch’, girl! And he throws real hard,
    and we’ve got a ton of prospects anyway.
    All it’s gonna cost is some Jim Crane money,
    and nobody cares about Jim Crane’s money;
    Cause he’s rich, girl! And we’ve come this far,
    and we’ve got a chance to take it all the way.
    Though Sonny Gray hasn’t got an orange star;
    look where we are!

    Liked by 2 people

      • The only thing about Verlander is that his wife is a ‘Maneater’ who has never ‘Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’. Once upon a time her Kiss was on my List, but now, like AC45 I am so old that I Can’t Go for That. Oh, Say it Isn’t So. At least I made Sarah Smile. Anyway, I figure that Justin is far from Out of Touch, and that he probably has got Private Eyes watching everything his lady does when She’s Gone.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. This will certainly be a point on Luhnow’s resume but not his real ‘High Point’. Holding the line on Brady Aiken when that situation went south was real leadership. They didn’t panic and they didn’t go public more than necessary. The front office protected the team’s long term interests while bringing a lot of criticism on themselves. This is just a popular trade which may or may not work out.

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  12. In addition to Verlander, with the expansion of the roster and the status of rehabs, we should soon see several areas of improvement to our team:

    1. Carlos Correa’s looming return should provide a tremendous shot in the arm; a Correa at even 50% is far, far better than J.D. Davis at 100%;
    2. Tyler White will be a good DH option as Carlos Beltran nurses his injured foot and his other 40-year old bones;
    3. Tony Kemp will be an excellent option to provide some rest and reloading opportunities to the apparently overwhelmed and over-matched Derek Fisher;
    4. A.J. Hinch will have several other options in the bullpen besides the consistently poorly-performing Francisco Liriano; Liriano has been so bad that he should see action only in major blow-outs – and then only until he gives up his first 4-pitch walk, his first 2-strike HBP, his first wild pitch, or his first run;
    5. A.J. Reed could provide some punch off the bench, as well as some rest for Gurriel’s aging knees;
    6. Having another backup catcher like Max Stassi could really help take some of the load off of McCann’s knees and back, especially while Gattis is on the DL;
    7. If our DH [Beltran, White] gets on base late in the game, we can use either Maybin or Kemp as a speedy PR;
    8. We might even get another look at Colin Moran!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. 29 games left, 12 at home, 17 on the road:

    6 with the Mariners [3 home, 3 away]
    6 with the Angels [3 home, 3 away]
    4 with the Red Sox [all at Fenway]
    4 with the As [all in Oakland]
    3 with the Mets [all at home]
    3 with the White Sox [all at home]
    3 with the Rangers [all at Arlington]

    What do you think our record is over those 29 games?

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  14. Doesn’t look like anyone has made the Randy Johnson comparison. Last minute deadline deal, big pitcher for three prospects, playoff run, etc. In case you were wondering, Houston gave up three prospects (#6 Freddy Garcia, #7 Carlos Guillen and #8 John Halama to get Johnson, for only a few months. They all played in the majors but Garcia obviously had the most success.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Similar except….. it is not a rental. Now it may end up being an albatross if suddenly Verlander turns into Beltran and can’t perform any more, but it is not two months and gone like the Big Unit. (Ironic I mentioned Beltran since he was like RJ, a short term rental back when).

      Liked by 1 person

    • The times sure have changed. I remember when the Randy Johnson trade happened the Mariners got blasted in the media for getting such a ‘small’ return for a legitimate TOR pitcher. Today, if a team out of the playoff chase got another teams #6, 7 and 8 rated prospects for a rental they would be lauded for getting quite a haul. Of course, back in 1998 the internet was still in its early years and social media was not around. Information overload has caused the times to change on how trades are perceived today compared to pre- or early internet days.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. …..
    * Are you good with this trade? Did they give up more or less than you were hoping for JV?
    I’m very pleased with this trade. I thought it would take more/better prospects to get the job done.
    * Has Jeff Luhnow won you over in showing his ability to make the big deal?
    He had already won me over. However, I still reserve the right to criticize him as well as the entire organization if I feel the need.
    * Do you think this trade will fire up the team down the stretch?
    I do think it will fire them up. Bet it becomes obvious right away.
    * Do you think this trade makes the Astros the AL favorite to make the World Series?
    Probably not the favorite but In my opinion it it sure helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s a good question to debate. Ultimately, I would base my response around how safe it is for the fans to attend the game. If enough of the roads are safe to traverse to/from the game then I support playing, but only so long as the Astros have a very liberal exchange policy for unused tickets.

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    • This is a tough question to answer. I work downtown a mile from Minute Maid as the crow flies. Downtown is dry and open now. From most directions people can get to the park fairly easily by freeway if……they can get out of their neighborhoods. In most cases if their neighborhoods are flooded they are not there, but they are then likely living elsewhere without a vehicle.
      The thing is that where there is flooding problems this will not be resolved a few days or a few weeks. So unless you are going to cancel the rest of the Astros season, you will have home games occurring with people in temporary housing probably through the rest of the season and playoffs.
      I don’t know how to weigh this. Will this absorb resources that could be used for those in need. Yeah probably. But that will be true next week and next month too. Do we stop it because we will recover more bodies in the upcoming days? I don’t know – do we stop the Cubs or White Sox from playing at home because 15 young men will get murdered during the next home stand on the streets of Chicago?
      I know this city needs some distraction too. This may not be the right time to play games in Houston, but when will it be?

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  16. Am I good with this trade?
    Of course I am. No guarantees I understand but JV adds to a rotation that was lacking all season. Even better if we see the JV of late, pitching wise. Don’t think we gave up to much prospectl wise with the cream of the crop still intact.
    Did the move win me over on JL making the big deal?
    Not necessarily, but I am impressed he made the deal. For me the jury still out on him on this side of the ball for future deal making.
    Will this move fire the team up for the stretch run?
    If it doesn’t shame on them. The players lamented the lack thereof after the deadline and the offense has gone into hibernation since. This tm is still very young and it shows. Know there’s a lot going on but they need to pick it up on both sides of the ball.
    This trade make them AL WS favorites?
    I felt they were favorites before the trade and still do. The trade just gives them more ammo to fire, so yes, it helps, a lot.

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  17. the thing about these older veteran ball players is that they can wear down over an entire season, but once they get in the energy of the playoffs can rise back up to their best performance. i am thinking verlander will do just that. and if he pitches to that sub 2 runs per game era that he has this last month or so and the offense starts rolling again when guys come off the DL, then we will make a deep run.
    i like the trade, the prospects we gave up made me groan alittle, but i didnt have to scream in pain.
    yes. i think luhnow has done a great job overall
    absolutely this team will be fired up down the stretch
    and yes the astros are the favorite to win the al
    and we have verlander for 2-3 more years which makes this less painful than the big unit trade when we sent prospects for a rental.

    so i grade this trade as a wooohoo

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  18. I think the Mets players would have felt a lot worse about the situation, if they were sitting in St. Pete. I think they would not have been able to help the people of Houston hands on, the way they talked about doing, if they were in NY and not playing at all.
    I’m not in Houston, so my opinion isn’t really of importance, but I am satisfied if Sylvester Turner, the elected mayor of the city, says it is a good thing for Houston. Who else is better to have his hand on the pulse of the city? Certainly not a guy from the New York Post, no matter what his best intentions are.
    Maybe my house is flooded and I’m stuck in a hotel, but if I have tickets to this weekend’s game or games and I can get there, it might be the best therapy I and my family could have.

    Liked by 5 people

    • 1OP, just getting through the blog for the first time today and absorbing the comments after reading the opinion of the New York Post writer. I could not post anything closer to exactly mirroring your own thoughts. Tough, tough times ahead, but the lights are on and the city has to run! I’ll bet if that writer took a tour tomorrow and asked the people of Houston what they thought about playing baseball on Saturday, there would be a need for a second, much different column to be written. And this is just a total guess, but I’ll bet a fair amount of people sheltering at the George R. Brown will be in the park tomorrow, enjoying game one, compliments of the Astros.

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  19. Rogelio Armenteros is starting tonight for Fresno. Despite pitching in an extreme hitter’s league, he is 7-1 for AAA, and is coming in with a 2.03 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and a BAA of .197. If there was room on the 40-man, September would be calling his name at 23 years old.

    Liked by 2 people

      • He doesn’t have a plus pitch. Guys who rank prospects for a living want to see guys with big stuff. His best pitch is his change up and they don’t like change up pitchers.
        He’s going to have to do what Keuchel did. He is going to have to fight his way to the majors with average stuff and then prove he can get batters out. His K rate is way up this year and THAT is something the guys want to see.
        This is by far his best year, so we might be seeing the birth of a pitcher. We will have to wait until next season to find out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rogelio is one of those guys that I’d love to see succeed. Nothing remarkable about him, but he’s easily got the best stats in the system over the past two years. At 40 grand, he’s also the best bang for the buck in our organization. Seems mature. Maybe he’s a bit older than 23! Very solid innings totals. High K/BB. Low HR per 9. Low BA against. He goes late into games. With 4 or 5 pitches, he can show batters different stuff their third time up to the plate. I think he’ll figure out a way to get ML hitters out.

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      • By the way, Rogelio had another good start – and got another win – last night. 5-2 Grizzlies [by the way, did you notice that sounds like a real baseball score, not a typical PCL shoot-out?]

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  20. I haven’t come down to earth since I saw the news on MLB Trade rumors last night!!
    Of COURSE I like this trade…but like Sandy, I reserve the right to gripe about Luhnow, *next year*! If he was standing in front of me right now…I’d plant a big kiss on his cheek, and hug him real tight! We haven’t heard much from the Astros players, but Hinch is walking on air today! This trade is going to make the whole team better, and the guys can hardly wait to shake his hand! Can you imagine the first conversations Verlander will have with this rotation! I’m sure McCullers and Keuchel will pick his brain for advice, as well as the whole pitching crew! McCann is excited to catch him!
    Soooo…WOOOO-HOOOO welcome to the Astros Justin Verlander and Careron Maybin!!!

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  21. Dave your nephew is on his way to the big club as well as Tony Kemp. Those are the only ones I know for sure. Correa will play for the Astros on Sunday, and McCullers is coming off the DL on Sunday too. I’m STILL walking on air!😍

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  22. Take a moment and let this soak in. On Monday the Astros will start Dallas Keuchel against Seattle. On Tuesday they will start Justin Verlander and on Wednesday they
    will start Lance McCullers Jr.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. Sipp is back
    Guduan is back.
    Liriano is still here.
    For the time being, the Astros have three lefties in their bullpen.
    I definitely expect Stassi back soon to give us another catcher.
    Tony Kemp and Cameron Maybin are starting in the outfield today and Springer is the DH.

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  24. So my question is Martes. I don’t ever go wow 90 % of the time he pitches. I know he is young, etc etc , but does he have the head for this game at the major league level?

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  25. For the second night in a row, the Angels score 5 runs late off the Ranger’s bullpen. Texas held on last night, but lets the Angels win it in 10 innings tonight.

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  26. Did you folks see the random picture of Keuchel and Verlander standing in the dugout? BIG smiles on both faces!! This team is charged up, and they are going to go like gangbusters now and tI’ll the end of the season!!

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