MLB trade rumors: Will Justin Verlander, Maikel Franco, Martin Prado be dealt?

May 30, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
May 30, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

Veterans Justin Verlander and Martin Prado could be on the move, as could youngster Maikel Franco, before the MLB trade deadline.

As the July 31 MLB trade deadline approaches, we will be taking a regular look at some of the biggest names that could be moved.

Justin Verlander, RHP, Tigers

Verlander is an icon in Detroit, perhaps the greatest pitcher in Tigers history. Nevertheless, the six-time All-Star’s days in the Motor City may be coming to an end.

“Multiple front-office sources told Yahoo Sports they expect Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks,” Jeff Passan reports. “This is more tea-leaf reading than any indication Tigers general manager Al Avila has given in conversations with teams.”

Why deal the former Cy Young winner and MVP?

The Tigers have the second-worst record in the American League and a bottom-tier farm system. Selling off assets like J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler and, yes, Verlander makes sense for a team looking to start a rebuild.

At 34, Verlander does not figure to be part of the next great Tiger team. While he hasn’t been great this season, Verlander’s stellar 2016 assures contenders looking for pitching will be interested.

“Some evaluators are bullish … One believes a return to a competitive team would reinvigorate Verlander and compared him to Randy Johnson in 1998,” Passan writes. “At 34 years old, Johnson had a 4.33 ERA with Seattle. After a deadline deal to Houston, he went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA and struck out 116 in 84 1/3 innings.”

Two things could get in the way of a deal:

  • As a 10-5 guy, Verlander has full no-trade rights, so the Tigers would need to get him to waive those rights.
  • The righthander is owed more than $50 million through the end of 2020. The Tigers undoubtedly will have to eat part of the contract.

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Round up the usual suspects: The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros all figure to have interest if Verlander is dealt.

Maikel Franco, 3B, Phillies

The young Phillies third baseman is “more than available,” according to The Boston Globe. How one becomes “more than available” is anyone’s guess, but here we are.

The Phillies front office doesn’t think Franco is a building block for the future, and it views 2017 as a make or break year for the 24-year-old. So far, it’s been “break.” Franco is hitting just .225/.285/.362 with 10 homers and below-average defense.

The team is considering cutting bait on Franco and going all in on free-agent Manny Machado following the 2018 season.

If they deal Franco now, the Phillies will be selling low on a player who put up significantly better offensive numbers in 2015 and 2016 and can’t become a free agent until 2022. Perhaps they think they can get the Yankees and Boston Red Sox in a bidding war considering both are desperate for help at the Hot Corner.

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Boston and New York, as mentioned. But Franco is less of a short-term fix than Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier, so it wouln’t be surprising for teams looking more to the future to get involved.

Martin Prado, 3B, Marlins

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Miami Marlins are sellers.

Also, stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Yankees and Red Sox are looking to upgrade at third base.

Enter Martin Prado. Boston and New York have reached out to Miami about the veteran, versatile infielder, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Now that it looks like the Royals may not be selling, thus taking Mike Moustakas off the market, the slick-fielding Prado could be a good option for either AL East contender. He has played just 21 games this year due to injury, but he has a solid track record of getting on base, including a .305/.359/.417 slash line last season.

And the Yankee brass was impressed with the 33-year-old Prado’s leadership skills during his brief stint in the Bronx in 2014.

“The biggest obstacle is Prado’s contract. He still has $28.5 million remaining after this season, and the Yankees and Red Sox each are trying to get below the $197 million luxury tax for the 2018 season,” Nightengale reports.

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Boston and New York. Don’t be surprised if Prado ends up with one of them and Todd Frazier the other.