Verlander: A's had Tigers in mind
Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander knows how to beat the Athletics in the playoffs -- as Detroit has done the past two seasons -- which is why he is certain Oakland's blockbuster trade with the Chicago Cubs for starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel was made with a potential October rematch in mind.
"I found it very interesting," Verlander told reporters Saturday, according to MLB.com. "Really, when I saw that trade, I thought that they made that trade for us. No doubt about it in my mind."
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The 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner sees the trade as Oakland general manager Billy Beane's attempt to enable his team go all the way in 2014.
"If they want to win the World Series, they're envisioning that they have to go through us, and, even though it's been two fantastic series, it's been heartbreaking for them the last two years," Verlander said.
But Verlander also downplayed any notion that the trade was done solely because of the Tigers.
"I think a lot of factors had to do with why they did it," he said. "Obviously, October's the main one, not necessarily us, but October in general."
Oakland began the day with baseball's best record, but Beane felt he needed to add depth to a rotation despite its strong response to season-ending injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin. Samardzija and Hammel, both pitching at an All-Star level for the Cubs in 2014, join Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray in what is now one of baseball's premier rotations.
Beane called Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein about a month ago to tell him he liked the starting pitchers, and he would be aggressive in an attempt to improve the AL West leaders. Fast forward to this week, when Beane proved just how serious he was during that initial call.
"We had to dig into our depth really early, and we felt like we needed two [starting pitchers]," Beane said.
Oakland and Chicago announced the big trade on Saturday, with Samardzija and Hammel heading to the West Coast for a package of prospects that included the A's first-round selections in each of the past two drafts -- Addison Russell and Billy McKinney.
Samardzija will start for the A's on Sunday. He was scheduled to pitch for the Cubs on Saturday before the deal.
In somewhat of a surprise, the A's sent left-hander Tommy Milone to Triple-A Sacramento later Saturday to make room for Samardzija.
Oakland will make a move Sunday to clear space for Hammel, whose $6 million contract expires after this season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.