Trade Deadline Insider: Verlander, Arenado, best player available

July 28th, 2023

Could be the name that turns a ho-hum Trade Deadline into a memorable one?

According to two Major League executives, there is a belief within the industry that the Mets could very well move the three-time American League Cy Young winner and former AL Most Valuable Player in the coming days.

The Mets enter the weekend at 48-54, trailing the Reds by seven games for the final spot in the NL Wild Card race. New York is also looking up at four other teams – the D-backs, Marlins, Cubs and Padres – behind the three Wild Card leaders, giving them a big mountain to climb if they want to reach the postseason.

Verlander is in the first year of a two-year, $86,666,666 million contract with the Mets, a deal that also includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. The right-hander has a full no-trade clause in the contract, so he can’t be traded anywhere without his approval.

The frontrunner for Verlander, according to one source, would likely be the Rangers, who are said to be seeking rotation help and are taking an aggressive approach to the Trade Deadline. It should be noted that Texas pursued Verlander last winter, but the pitcher expressed no interest in joining the Rangers, who were coming off of their sixth consecutive losing season.

“Maybe that’s changed with their performance,” one executive said.

Verlander spent the first month of the season on the injured list, then struggled to find a groove during his first nine starts, regularly alternating good and bad outings. Since June 26, Verlander is 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA in six starts, averaging more than six innings per outing.

Another club said to be interested is the Astros, the team with which Verlander pitched from September 2017 through the end of the 2022 season. One executive pegged a surprise sleeper team in a potential Verlander sweepstakes: the Reds.

“Cincy has the system to get a deal done,” the exec said. “And [Reds GM] Nick [Krall] might be just wild enough to do it.”

Which teams ultimately get involved if Verlander is made available could depend on how much of the contract owner Steve Cohen is willing to pay down in an effort to extract better prospects in return.

California dreaming?

The Dodgers and Cardinals have engaged in conversations for a number of players including , though sources say a deal for the All-Star third baseman appears to be a long shot.

A Los Angeles Times report Thursday suggested that Arenado, a native of Southern California, would waive his no-trade clause to go to the Dodgers – and only the Dodgers.

Arenado’s agent, Joel Wolfe, declined to get into specifics about any trade possibilities when reached by, but he did say the report stating that Arenado would only waive his no-trade clause for the Dodgers was "inaccurate."

Arenado is due approximately $12 million for the rest of the season and has four years and $109 million remaining on his contract after 2023, though the Rockies will pay roughly $15 million of that as a condition of the February 2021 trade that sent Arenado to St. Louis.

If not Shohei, then who?

Now that the Angels have clearly stated their intentions to keep and make a run at the postseason, I posed a question to a number of executives on Thursday.

Now that Shohei isn’t going anywhere, who will be the best player traded?

The most popular answer was Tigers lefty , who has become a popular trade target as we detailed in this space on Thursday. Other players receiving votes were Verlander, fellow Mets right-hander and Padres left-hander .

“It’s a good question,” an NL executive said. “The problem is that the teams that are definitely selling don’t have big-name guys to move.”

Interesting to note that neither Marcus Stroman nor Cody Bellinger were named by any executive, but not because they consider them to be lesser players than the ones listed above.

“I’m not convinced the Cubs definitely sell,” an NL executive said.

The Cubs won their sixth in a row on Thursday, pulling within 4 1/2 games of the third NL Wild Card spot.

Deadline dealings

• The Giants are seeking middle-infield help, per sources, touching base with the Royals about Nicky Lopez and the Cardinals about Paul DeJong. St. Louis also has Tommy Edman and Brendan Donovan, who are drawing interest from multiple clubs. 

• The Royals continue to draw significant interest in relievers Scott Barlow and Carlos Hernández, sources said. Barlow is more likely to move based on control; he’s set to become a free agent after the 2024 season, while Hernández is arbitration-eligible for each of the next four years.