Report: Cubs asked Tigers about Justin Verlander and Alex Avila

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Jon Morosi reports that the Cubs asked the Tigers about the availability of starter Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. The two sides haven’t yet engaged in trade negotiations, however.

Verlander, 34, was lit up for seven runs over 3 1/3 innings in his most recent start, one in which he didn’t record a single strikeout. The veteran right-hander is carrying an ugly 4.96 ERA with a 92/47 K/BB ratio over 98 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but his walk rate has nearly doubled and his strikeout rate has fallen.

The Cubs, though, could use the pitching help. John Lackey has given up an MLB-high 24 home runs already and has a 5.24 ERA. Among Cubs starters to have made at least six starts, Jon Lester is the only one with an ERA under 4.00.

Avila, 30, has had an outstanding season. He’s batting .310/.431/.571 with 11 home runs and 29 RBI in 204 plate appearances. The Cubs, who recently traded Miguel Montero to the Blue Jays, could use another catcher to pair with Willson Contreras.

Dodgers, Tony Gonsolin agree to 2-year, $6.65M contract

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LOS ANGELES — All-Star pitcher Tony Gonsolin and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed on a two-year, $6.65 million contract that avoided an arbitration hearing.

Gonsolin gets $3.25 million this year and $3.4 million in 2024.

His salary in the second season can escalate by up to $3 million based on a points system in which he will be credited one point for each start, or each relief appearance of 3 1/3 innings: $500,000 apiece for 14, 16, 18, 20, 24 and 28 points. The 2024 salary also would increase by $1,125,000 for winning a Cy Young Award this year, $625,000 for finishing second or third in the voting and $500,000 for finishing fourth or fifth.

The sides exchanged salary proposals on Jan. 13, with Gonsolin seeking a raise from $720,000 last season to $3.4 million this year, while the Dodgers offered $3 million.

The 28-year-old right-hander was 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 24 starts during a breakout season last year. Gonsolin earned his first All-Star selection with an 11-0 record and a 2.02 ERA in the first half. He finished with the highest winning percentage (.941) in franchise history.

Gonsolin has been with the Dodgers for parts of four seasons since being drafted in the ninth round out of Saint Mary’s College in 2016. He is 26-6 with a 2.51 ERA in 59 career games.

He helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series during the pandemic-shortened season.