Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers rumors: Justin Verlander, Alex Avila reportedly linked with Cubs

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BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 03: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers talks with Alex Avila #13 of the Detroit Tigers in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles during Game Two of the American League Division Series at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on October 3, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 03: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers talks with Alex Avila #13 of the Detroit Tigers in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles during Game Two of the American League Division Series at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on October 3, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila have reportedly been linked with the Chicago Cubs, according to a tweet from MLB Network and Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi.

Detroit Tigers battery pairing Justin Verlander and Alex Avila have been extremely important to the team this season.

Avila has arguably been baseball’s best offensive catcher in 2017. He paces all Detroit position players in WAR with a 2.4 number.

In fact, only Michael Fulmer (3.1) has a higher WAR on Detroit’s roster.

The catcher has chipped in with 11 home runs, a 165 wRC+, a .30 batting average, a .428 on-bae percentage and a .564 slugging percentage.

Additionally, the veteran owns 16.8 walk percentage and a .419 wOBA in his return to the Motor City. He previously signed a one-year deal in the offseason.

Avila was brought in to back-up James McCann at catcher.

However, the veteran has moved into a timeshare with the younger backstop, seeing most of his at-bats against right-handed pitching.

All told, the former fourth-round pick owns a 1.045 OPS in 190 plate appearances against right-handed pitching this season.

The veteran has logged just 17 plate appearances against southpaws.

Despite a 4.36 FIP and a 4.96 ERA that is in part due to a handful of rough starts, Verlander has been a key member of Detroit’s pitching staff this season.

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He ranks second to Fulmer in WAR among pitchers, and is striking out 8.45 batters per nine innings.

Duo reportedly linked with Cubs

Now according to a tweet from MLB Network and Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, the Chicago Cubs asked about the duo.

Morosi tweeted on Monday:

"“#Cubs inquired on #Tigers on availability of Justin Verlander and Alex Avila, sources say, but sides have not engaged in trade negotiations.”"

Whether anything else happens with Verlander, Avila and the Cubs remains to be seen. However a hypothetical trade with Chicago would be intriguing given the organization’s young talent.

Speculative trade fits

Jeimer Candelario and Mark Zagunis, both currently in Triple-A, could be fits, as could Single-A hurler Dylan Cease.

Next: Tigers reportedly sign 3 international amateur free agents

Younger Major League players  in the Windy City who could make sense in a hypothetical trade include Albert Almora Jr., Ian Happ, Carl Edwards Jr. and Justin Grimm.

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