Chicago Cubs Rumors: Talks with Tigers for Avila, Verlander continue

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs continue conversations with the Detroit Tigers about Alex Avila and Justin Verlander. It’s unknown if they have progressed, but the Cubs are keeping the door open.

The Chicago Cubs continue to have conversations with several teams. That includes the Detroit Tigers. In some circles, it seems the Cubs would be interested in Alex Avila as a backup catcher. But the Tigers might be looking to cash in and move Justin Verlander along with him. The biggest hang up on Verlander was the Tigers unwillingness to cover any or part of his remaining contract. Is it possible that their position has shifted?

The overall belief is that the Cubs could be in the market for a backup catcher, bullpen help and a potential starter. The recent impact of Clayton Kershaw missing up to 4 to 6 weeks might affect the landscape as far as pitching. Yu Darvish, Sonny Gray and Verlander have all been linked to the Cubs in some form or fashion–but only in rumors. The Dodgers seem likely to dive in on one of those. But Verlander and Avila has potential, only if the Tigers are willing to eat part of Verlander’s contract.

More from Cubbies Crib

Willson needs his rest

Willson Contreras has been outstanding but has already played in 12 more games than all of last year. If the Cubs don’t want to wear him out, they have two options. Start playing Victor Caratini more–or look for a reliable backup that they trust. While the Cubs have praised Caratini, it’s not clear they would be ready to throw him in the middle of another championship push.

Avila looks to be the best fit for several reasons. He’s a “rental,” and not along the lines of Aroldis Chapman. The cost wouldn’t be that damaging. But there’s the chance of getting a future Hall of Famer in Verlander–and for that, there would be.

Verlander is owed $56 million over the next two seasons, with a vesting option in 2020 if he finishes in the Top 5 in CY Young voting. The initial conversations were that the Tigers weren’t willing to eat on of that money. That was enough for the Cubs to do no more than “kick the tires” and walk away. So have things on the Tigers side changed? Or is the recent hot streak out of the gate have the Cubs coming back to take a second look?

Cubs haven’t tipped their hand

I don’t believe the Cubs have given any indication that getting a catcher is a “must,” but the Tigers could try to hold that against them in trying to make a deal. Maybe it goes something like this:

“Theo, it’s Al Avila.”

“Hey, what can I do for you, Al?”

“We’re willing to give you my kid, Alex. BUT, you’ll need to take JV as well.”


“It’s up to you Theo. Come up with a package and I’ll talk to you soon.”

With Verlander, the Cubs would get a controllable starter. But they would be in no better position than if they signed Jake Arrieta. Arrieta is three years younger, but would that deal be any less than Verlander’s? Probably not. The Cubs would be on the hook for a lot of money either way. Verlander has had more success in his career, but still an expensive addition.

Next: Britton or Darvish?

And with Verlander, it’s likely going to cost them a player off the MLB roster. I don’t want to play this game, but based off of playing time, or lack of, it could be Albert Almora. Then again the Cubs could send Caratini in exchange for Avila. Lots of scenarios could play out–or none at all.

With eight days left, there’s plenty of time for things to change. The Cubs have already improved their club, and I don’t think a move is necessary–but it would help. It’s just a matter of where they feel they need that help more.