Justin Verlander is officially a New York Met. Actually, he's been a Met for a minute now, but I haven't been able to talk about it because I was out for a few weeks. Verlander pitching for an NL team doesn't impact my Tigers. I gave up on the idea that he would return to Detroit. But now that his very successful tenure with Houston is over, it's time we look back on one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history. Justin Verlander for Franklin Perez, Jake Rogers, and Daz Cameron. Having even to say that out loud gives me the heebie-jeebies. In August 2017, when there was still a waiver wire deadline, Justin Verlander, at the 11th hour, was traded to Houston Astros from the Detroit Tigers for three prospects. There was a catching prospect named Jake Rogers, a highly sought-after centerfielder named Daz Cameron, the son of Mike Cameron, and Franklin Perez, one of the top 25 prospects at the time. Considering that Verlander was considered to be near the end of the line at the time, it was viewed by many as a fair deal. It wasn't fair. It was very unfair, and it derailed the Tigers' rebuild.
Justin Verlander went to Houston and became an Astros icon. He ended his Houston career with two Cy Youngs, one more than he won in Detroit, three All-Star game appearances, an ALCS MVP, and two World Series titles. People can bitch about how poorly he might've pitched in the World Series, but he got the win in Game 5 against the Phillies last year, which helped propel Houston to the second world championship in six seasons. His ERA and strikeout numbers were better than they were during his time in Detroit. When the Tigers traded him, he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but his time in Houston led to an ascension. He is now one of the greatest there's ever been.
Let's look at the return. Daz Cameron was unable to hone his craft. In 73 games with the Tigers, he had an OPS of .597. His career WAR was zero, and he is no longer with the Tigers organization. Franklin Perez pitched 44.2 innings for the Tigers…IN THE MINOR LEAGUES. I'm being generous because I'm including rookie ball, which doesn't technically count. He's 24 years old, and in his most recent stint in the Florida Complex League, he was 0-4 with a 9.59 ERA. The last piece of the puzzle was Jake Rogers. Rogers admittedly showed promise in the 2021 season, putting up a .802 OPS. He's been lauded for his pitch-framing and game-calling abilities. He also missed all of last season because of Tommy John surgery, and most people are unsure what his future will look like in Detroit. But I don't care if Jake Rogers ends up becoming Mike Piazza. This is who you traded for JUSTIN VERLANDER. And for the record, I agreed with the trade at the time. The Tigers were rebuilding. But dude, you have to give me something more. GMs get rewarded for good luck and punished for bad luck. That's the business. Al Avila, the Tigers now former team President Of Baseball Ops, didn't get fired until almost five years after this trade. That is stunning. It was only fair to give him some time, but five years? Oy vey. This was Al Avila's reverse masterpiece. It was his 9th symphony, a glorious testament to his awfulness. It is so pathetic that even if Verlander would've flamed out in Houston, it still would've been an awful trade.
(I hope you enjoyed that highlight. It's 20% of Daz Cameron's career home runs)
Locally, Michigan sports fans shiver when this trade is brought up. It set the Tigers back years. As of the time of this blog, they haven't had a winning season without Justin Verlander on the roster since 1993. Detroit fans can't stand the trade, but it doesn't get enough heat nationally. This was an all-time fleece. It was a prime example of everything right with the Astros and everything wrong with the Tigers. Franklin Perez, Jake Rogers, and Daz Cameron. You've got to be kidding me.