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.