As the clock struck midnight out on the East Coast to signal Major League Baseball's waiver trade deadline, Justin Verlander didn't turn into a pumpkin.
He turned into a Houston Astro. Though it sounds like he wanted to turn into a Cub.
Yes, the biggest name traded before time ran out on the month of August — a potential future Hall-of-Famer — had the Cubs as his first choice, according to one baseball reporter.
And indeed the Cubs were talking with the Detroit Tigers about landing the six-time All Star.
Cubs have been engaged last 24 hrs w/Det. regarding Justin Verlander. Confirmed he would approve deal here. Source says price still too high— David Kaplan (@thekapman) September 1, 2017
In the end, it's not too much of a surprise that the Cubs couldn't get a blockbuster deal done to add another All-Star arm to their starting rotation.
The Cubs seemingly exhausted the last of their highly ranked prospect capital in the Crosstown swap that brought Jose Quintana to the North Side and sent the organization's top two prospects, outfielder Eloy Jimenez and pitcher Dylan Cease, to the White Sox.
The Astros ended up handing over three of their top 11 prospects in the trade with the Tigers, sending Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers to Houston. Perez is one of the top 50 prospects in baseball.
That likely means one of two things (or maybe both) couldn't make a Cubs-Tigers swap happen. Either the Tigers were demanding one of the Cubs' current core major leaguers in return for Verlander, or the Cubs just didn't have the assets to accommodate whatever long-term rebuild might be on in Detroit. Remember the Tigers also shipped Justin Upton out of town earlier Thursday, getting pitching prospect Grayson Long in return, who was the Tiger's No. 12 prospect prior to the Verlander deal.
Detroit's farm system is in such shape that Jeimer Candelario, who the Cubs traded to the Tigers in the Alex Avila/Justin Wilson deal, was ranked as that organization's No. 3 prospect prior to the Verlander trade.
So Verlander going to Houston made far more sense, even if Verlander wanted to end up on the North Side, because of what the Astros could send back to the Tigers.
Still the Cubs have a pretty stacked rotation and plan to throw Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks once the postseason rolls around if they can hang on to their lead in the National League Central.
Should they make it back to the World Series, however, and the Astros are waiting for them there, it could be Verlander pitching against the team he wanted to play for the most.