Red Sox

Astros boost rotation with trade for Justin Verlander

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Astros boost rotation with trade for Justin Verlander

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros acquired Justin Verlander in a trade with the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night, just before the deadline for having players eligible for postseason play.

The right-hander joins the American League West leaders and a rotation that is led by Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers.

"He adds a boost to our rotation," Astros owner Jim Crane said. "He's been pitching well. We think he'll give us some leadership. He's been in the playoffs before and adds a dimension we didn't have."

The six-time All Star is a playoff veteran having appeared in the postseason five times. He is 7-5 with a 3.39 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 16 career starts in the playoffs.

The 34-year-old Verlander is 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA in 28 starts this season. The Tigers will receiver minor league prospects outfielder Daz Cameron, right-hander Franklin Perez and catcher Jake Rogers as well as a player to be named later or cash considerations in the deal.

It was the second trade of the day for the Tigers who sent outfielder Justin Upton to the Los Angeles Angels for pitching prospect Grayson Long and cash or a player to be named.

Crane is optimistic that Verlander is the piece that can help the Astros make a deep run in the postseason.

"We hope it positions us to get into the playoffs, get by the first round, get into the second round and get to the world series and win it. That's what we've been working at and that's what we'll continue to work at and we want to win."

The Astros spent the week playing their home series against the Texas Rangers at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida because of catastrophic flooding in the area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. They returned to Houston on Thursday night and will begin a series at Minute Maid Park with the New York Mets with a doubleheader on Saturday.

"We think it will be great for the town," Crane said. "We need a little boost right now. So all the stars may be aligned here. We're hoping that it works out good for us."

Verlander has compiled a 183-114 record with a 3.49 ERA and 2,373 strikeouts in his 13-year career with the Tigers.

After trading both Verlander and Upton the Tigers are now clearly moving forward with a rebuild. Detroit is 58-74 and on track to miss the postseason for a third straight year.

The Tigers drafted Verlander in 2004 with the No. 2 overall pick. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 2006, when Detroit came out of nowhere to win the American League pennant. He led the AL with 19 wins in 2009, but his finest season came in 2011, when he went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and won the AL Cy Young Award and MVP. He also threw his second career no-hitter that season and led the Tigers to their first of four consecutive AL Central titles.

Now Detroit is shedding payroll, although the Tigers still have Miguel Cabrera's huge contract. Verlander did not have a great start this season, but he went 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA in August. If he can perform like that down the stretch, he'll certainly give the Astros a much stronger rotation entering the postseason.

The Tigers were happy to get a trio of prospects they believe will help them down the road, and conveyed their thanks to Verlander for his years of work with the team.

"We sincerely thank Justin Verlander for his remarkable 13 seasons of dedication to the organization," Tigers general manager Al Avila said. "Justin has been the face of consistency over the course of his career, and a pillar for baseball in the city of Detroit. He is someone who I believe to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. We wish Justin all the best as he starts a new chapter in his illustrious career."

Red Sox bring Mitch Moreland back on a two-year deal

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Red Sox bring Mitch Moreland back on a two-year deal

BOSTON -- Mitch Moreland’s quietly strong 2017 season led to a reunion with the Red Sox on Monday, when a two-year, $13 million deal through 2019 became official. 

The move gives the Red Sox a reliable first base option, although it doesn’t give the fan base the news its been dying for to this point: the addition of a tremendous power hitter.

Likely, that’s still to come, although it clearly won’t be at first base, where free agent Eric Hosmer is one of the top names on the market. 

To add a big bat like J.D. Martinez now, the Red Sox appear to be in a position where they'll have to be willing to bench or release Hanley Ramirez, or potentially move an outfielder.

Moreland’s production in 2017, his first season in Boston, was better than expected. Entering his age-32 season, Moreland hit .246 with 22 home runs, and set career-highs in games (149), doubles (34) and walks (57). He also did well in the postseason, going 5-for-13 against the Astros in the first round.

A fractured left toe slowed Moreland and messed up his mechanics for a time, but he played through pain and skipped the disabled list. 

Moreland makes $6.5 million in each of 2018 and 2019, plus another potential $1 million in incentives, sources said. He can make up to $500,000 each year: if he reaches 500 plate appearances in either season, he gets $250,000, and he gets another $250,000 if he reaches 550 plate appearances.
 

Dodgers send Adrian Gonzalez to Braves, re-acquire Kemp

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Dodgers send Adrian Gonzalez to Braves, re-acquire Kemp

LOS ANGELES - Matt Kemp is returning to the place where he began his major league career, reacquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday as part of a five-player trade with the Atlanta Braves that sent former Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from L.A. to Atlanta.

The Dodgers sent Gonzalez, oft-injured starting pitchers Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy, infielder Charlie Culberson and cash to Atlanta for the 33-year-old Kemp. Gonzalez then was designated for assignment by the Braves.

After sitting on the sidelines during the recent winter meetings, the Dodgers moved quickly to dump nearly $50 million in salary committed to Gonzalez, Kazmir and McCarthy for 2018. Kemp is owed about $43 million over the next two seasons. Click here for more