Verlander may be dealt after more than 12 years with Tigers

The Associated Press

DETROIT — Justin Verlander is a rarity in baseball these days — a veteran in his 13th season who has played for only one franchise.

His future with the Detroit Tigers, however, has become increasingly uncertain.

“Even though I think of this organization as family, you always know that there is that underlying business tone,” Verlander said Wednesday. “This isn’t just kind of happy go lucky. This is an organization that needs to be run.”

With the Tigers languishing below .500, the next few weeks could be a tumultuous stretch in Detroit. The team was already planning to cut payroll before next season, and if there aren’t some real signs of contending soon, the pressure will be on general manager Al Avila to trade some of his biggest stars and get something in return. That could include Verlander, the 34-year-old who has helped the Tigers win four American League Central titles and a pair of pennants.

Verlander won the AL MVP and Cy Young Award in 2011, and he’s surpassed 200 innings nine times in his career. The right-hander has been a fan favorite in Detroit, and has the right to block any trade. Of course, a deal this month would presumably send him to a contending team and give Verlander a better chance to win an elusive World Series ring.

Verlander finished a close second in the Cy Young balloting last year — he actually received the most first-place votes — but is 5-5 with a 4.96 ERA this season, and at an age when a decline like that can be particularly worrisome.

Then there’s his contract, which calls for him to be paid $28 million in both 2018 and 2019, and includes a $22 million vesting option in 2020 that becomes guaranteed if he’s in the top five of the 2019 Cy Young vote. That price tag could limit what the Tigers can receive in return if they were to trade Verlander — unless they’re willing to cover some of the cost.

At this point, Verlander can only wait and see if he’ll be presented with the option of moving to a contender.

“I think there’s so many different things that would need to be discussed and thought about, it’s almost too much to think about right now,” he said. “If I started thinking about all those possibilities, that could become overwhelming, so I’m not.”