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Milwaukee Brewers are interested in Justin Verlander, per report

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He’s a bit different than the other pitchers that Milwaukee has been connected to thus far.

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Rumors persist about the Milwaukee Brewers’ search for arms on the trade market. Earlier today they were connected to Tigers’ closer Justin Wilson, and this afternoon it was reported that they are also showing interest in another Detroit hurler:

Verlander, 34, is a bit of a different animal than the other pitchers that Milwaukee has reportedly had interest in this summer. The longtime Tigers ace has, of course, enjoyed a lengthy and decorated career since debuting in the big leagues back in 2005. He hasn’t exactly pitched like an ace this season though, posting a 4.54 ERA/4.04 DRA across 117.0 innings pitched this season. He’s currently sporting the highest walk rate of his career at 4.23 BB/9, and both his strikeout rate of 21.5% and swinging-strike rate of 9.3% are below his career averages. He’s given up the most hard contact of his career (36.7%). Verlander’s average fastball velocity is up to 95.6 MPH this year, though, the hardest he’s thrown since 2012. He’s also coming off a 2016 where he posted a 3.04 ERA/2.66 DRA in 227.2 innings, so he has shown the ability to be a dominant pitcher in the recent past.

Then there’s the matter of his contract. Verlander has a full no-trade clause and would have to approve any deal sending him out of Detroit, the only organization that he’s ever known. He’s owed the balance of a $28 mil salary this year as well as another $28 mil in 2018-19 and a vesting option for 2020 if he finishes in the top-5 of Cy Young voting in 2019 that would pay him $22 mil. That’s a lot of money for a pitcher who will be 36 or 37 before hitting free agency. The Tigers are reportedly willing to include some cash in a potential Verlander deal, but it’s not clear how much. They are, of course, hoping to get a nice return of prospects for the righty as well.

The Brewers have been linked to arms that are controllable beyond 2017 but Verlander is the first highly-compensated player that they’ve been reported to have interest in. The team has the league’s lowest payroll and little in the way of guaranteed money of the books (Ryan Braun and Eric Thames are the only two players under contract for next season), so they could certainly afford to add Verlander’s contract to the books. The Brewers have the prospects in their system to get a deal done, as well. The question is whether or not Verlander would be preferable to adding an arm like Sonny Gray or even J.A. Happ, let alone a reliever like Wilson or Pat Neshek. He would also have to be willing to approve a deal to Milwaukee.

Even in the midst of a 5-game losing streak that has shrunk their divisional lead to 1 game over the Cubs, Milwaukee appears ready to make some kind of addition to their roster before the July 31st trade deadline:

Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs