Tigers happily moving forward with Verlander
NEW YORK -- Justin Verlander didn't wait for the clock to hit 4 p.m. ET. As the minutes dwindled toward the non-waiver Trade Deadline on Monday afternoon, he pulled out his cell phone, took a selfie at his locker and posted it from the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium.
"Source: I'm still in the Tigers locker room," Verlander wrote for the caption as he took pointers from reporters on how to cite himself on social media.
It was a different vibe from Sunday, when Verlander acknowledged after his start at Comerica Park that he tipped his cap to fans just in case he was traded. He knew the odds were long, but he wanted to make sure.
In the end, nothing was really close, which is why he could have fun with it.
"There was plenty of talk," general manager Al Avila said later Monday afternoon, "but nothing moving forward that we felt would take root and would be a benefit to our organization."
That applies not only to Verlander, but Ian Kinsler and other Detroit veterans. With Verlander in particular, the contract created a challenge. But in the end, the Tigers continue to view him more for the talent than the contract, and they remain unwilling to eat a huge portion of the deal or take lesser prospects to have another team take the bulk of the contract.
"I do not have a mandate to dump salary, never have, and I've been told it will never happen," Avila said.
Until and unless the Tigers get an offer that bridges that difference in viewpoint, Avila will hold onto the former Cy Young and MVP winner.
"I've talked to Verlander about it," Avila said. "He knows the situation. He knows that if he stays a Detroit Tiger for the remainder of his contract years, we'll be very happy about it.
"He's an icon in Detroit. He's an original Tiger. We drafted him, developed him, and we think he's going to be a future Hall of Famer. We're very happy to have him. Within the same token, if there's a deal to be made that's going to make this organization better that puts him in a good situation with another club, then we'll visit that at the time and we'll move forward on it -- if we feel it's a good situation."
That situation could pop up in August, which would present a fascinating situation. Though players now must clear waivers in order to be traded unless they're dealt to the team that claims them, Verlander's contract -- which guarantees him $28 million for each of the next two seasons -- is a challenge for any team that claims him.
Theoretically, the Tigers could let a team take on the contract, though Verlander could use his full no-trade rights to block a deal.
"I wouldn't hold my breath," Avila said of an August deal. "These kind of things sometimes have better movement in the wintertime, when teams are readjusting their budgets and their roster and things of that nature. Nothing's guaranteed. He might be with us for even longer than that. I couldn't predict it today. Anything can happen."
For now, Avila is trying to look at the upshot of his high-priced veterans sticking around, providing a clubhouse presence for a team that is out of contention.
"Having solid guys like a Verlander, like a Kinsler on your club, Miguel Cabrera, it really helps the process in keeping the culture of the clubhouse together as we move forward," Avila said.