Ex-Detroit Tiger ace Justin Verlander, recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, might be enticed to return to Detroit next year to finish off his career. The 38-year-old Houston Astro has not played this season, and will become a free agent later this year.
But former Tigers Manager Jim Leyland, who serves as a special assistant to General Manager Al Avila, warns that it's not clear how well Verlander will pitch after his major surgery.
“I think you gotta be careful what you pay for sentiment,” Leyland said, according to 97.1 The Ticket.
“It might be a nice story, but we don’t know how Justin’s going to come back. Would I love to see Justin finish in Detroit? Yes, I don’t want to sound hard-nosed here. I’m just saying, you gotta be careful with that. You don’t want to have a honeymoon if he’s not going to help this team. We need to win and we need to win pretty soon.
“If Justin’s a guy that can really help us, I wouldn’t bring him in just to tutor young pitchers. I would bring him in if he can win games for us, and there’s a good chance that he possibly can. I’m not saying he (can’t), so please, don’t take it the wrong way. But you gotta be careful getting involved with too much sentiment.”
In June, Verlander told the Free Press:
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it. Yeah, of course. I loved playing there. I love the city. I love the fans. Yes, I do think about it. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what's best for my career. If that aligns with that possibility, then maybe it does."