(CBS) The Cubs remained “involved” in trade talks with the Tigers surrounding right-hander Justin Verlander until he was dealt to the Astros late Thursday night, general manager Jed Hoyer confirmed Friday morning.
Chicago never offered Detroit a player off its big league roster or considered that, Hoyer said. And what it came down to was that the Tigers desired the Astros’ package of prospects. Detroit received right-hander Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron and catcher Jake Rogers. Perez is considered a top-50 prospect
“My honest assessment of that transaction was that after he cleared waivers, my sense was that Houston was very aggressive to get him,” Hoyer said in an interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on 670 The Score. “They didn’t make a big transaction at the (non-waiver trade) deadline (in July), and I think they were very focused on getting Verlander. They made an offer early on in August that once he cleared waivers was aggressive. And honestly, I think Detroit wanted that offer, they wanted to do the deal with Houston for most of the month. So we definitely had conversations with them, but there was a deal they liked with Houston. They ended up getting it done at the last minute. Sometimes it takes a deadline. But there was no question the engagement between Houston and Detroit, that was the deal that Detroit wanted.
“We never got that close. We had conversations, but they had a deal they liked, and that was a deal they were going to do.”
The Cubs had expressed interest in the 34-year-old Verlander dating back to July, before the non-waiver trade deadline passed. They continued to have discussions with the Tigers throughout August as Verlander cleared waivers, but the Cubs knew the Astros were better positioned to acquire him because of their stable of prospects they hadn’t parted with yet.
Hoyer read a report that indicated the Cubs were Verlander’s preferred destination, which he couldn’t confirm but called “flattering.”
“You want to be a destination,” Hoyer said. “You want players to want to play here. I think it’s really a testament to the organization but also to the fans and the area and the ballpark, that players look at this as a No. 1 destination, a top-three destination, whatever it might be.”
Hoyer downplayed the idea that the Cubs didn’t have enough prospects to get a deal done. Instead, he complimented the Astros’ “aggressiveness” from the start.
“This was the guy they needed,” Hoyer said of the Astros getting Verlander.
“Detroit liked those prospects. That was the deal they were focused on all along. And so as a result, the engagement, while there was conversation, it wasn’t like we ever got close to a deal, because Houston had put that price out there. I don’t think it was about a lack of prospects. I think it was about Houston’s aggressiveness. Whenever you talk about making these kinds of deals, a lot of it does have to do with another team liking your prospects, liking certain guys. I think there were certain guys in that deal going from Houston to Detroit that Detroit really liked.”
Verlander is 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA and 1.28 WHIP and 176 strikeouts in 172 innings this season. He finished second in the American League Cy Young voting in 2016.
Verlander is owed about $5 million for the final month of this season. He’s then owed $28 million in 2018, $28 million in 2019.