Chicago Cubs Rumors: Justin Verlander trade makes too much sense

The Chicago Cubs had the opportunity to trade for Justin Verlander almost a decade ago and sat on their hands; they can't do the same thing this time.
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Last week, when the Chicago Cubs swept the Houston Astros, they may very well have forced them into the sellers' market when the trade deadline comes around.

If that proves to be the case, there are a myriad of players on their roster that have significant playoff experience as well as the tangible skillsets you want to see from a player that you’re willing to deal prospect capital for.

Jed Hoyer is on record as having regrets about not claiming Justin Verlander on waivers in 2017 and trying to work out a trade. The Astros would, of course, go on to trade for Verlander that same season and win the World Series a few months later.

Jed Hoyer always gets his guy, even if it comes years after the time in which he originally wanted that guy, just ask Julio Teheran.

Remove the history from a deal for Verlander, and it still makes far too much sense for the Cubs to not pursue.

First, the Astros legitimately look to be sellers at this moment. They’re dead-last in a competitive AL West and the AL East looks like it may eat up all of the Wild Card spots, so they should be looking for a slight reload if not a full rebuild by dealing players away that aren’t in their long-term plans.

Second, there’s no way Justin Verlander could possibly be in the Astros' long-term plans. He’ll turn 42 before next season starts and he’s vested his $35 million dollar player option for 2025, which means he is about to become incredibly expensive.

There are several reason why a pursuit of Justin Verlander makes sense for the Cubs.

First, the veteran righties the Cubs deploy have some question marks. Jameson Taillon has been the antithesis of his 2023 self in a positive way but, unfortunately for the Cubs, Kyle Hendricks has done the same thing on the other end of the spectrum. 

Second, Ben Brown has looked like a capable starter, and Javier Assad has been great thus far, but they have no playoff experience and their youth should give any fan pause when we’re talking about meaningful innings in October/November.

Third, this is a short-term deal as far as the Cubs are concerned. They’ll be taking on a pitcher whose contract is up at the end of next season. It seems unlikely that a player would leave $35 million dollars on the table but if the Cubs manage to do something special with him on the roster there’s a chance that this would only be a one-year deal with him retiring at the end of the 2024 season.

Finally, his cost is not prohibitive for the Cubs, and the Astros could make it even more palatable by continuing to pay a portion of his deal. Yes, he’s making $43.3 million dollars this season, but $25 million of that is being covered by the New York Mets. After pro-rating the remaining $18.3 million that the Astros are paying him, if the Cubs made a trade for Verlander today they’d be on the hook for $15.2 million if the Astros didn’t offset the contract.

Aside from the fact that the Astros should want to trade Justin Verlander and that the Cubs should want to trade for Justin Verlander, there are two reasons this deal makes a ton of sense for both parties.

First, the Cubs aren’t in the same division or even the same league as the Astros. There is not any bad blood between the two organizations, and the sight of Justin Verlander potentially winning a World Series in another team’s jersey doesn’t hurt as bad when that’s the case. 

The biggest reason though, is that the Cubs have the MLB-ready pieces a team like Houston would seek in a trade. A team like the Colorado Rockies or Oakland A’s would look at the trade deadline very differently than a team like the Astros because they don’t have any pieces that make them ready to compete soon. They’d look for teenagers and lottery ticket-type players. However, the Astros will be ready to compete again soon and a player like Alexander Canario or James Triantos might be enough to get a deal done that sees the Astros send back some salary relief as well.

We’ve discussed the Cubs trading for Emmanuel Clase, but the Cleveland Guardians have the best record in the American League, so that seems unlikely. We’ve discussed them trading for Michael Kopech, but cross-town trades are rare and his 4.40 ERA and 5 BB/9 don’t seem like an improvement in the Cubs’ current bullpen.

The Cubs trading for Justin Verlander just makes too much sense not to happen.