Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander was the biggest name involved in trade rumors before the July 31 deadline that didn’t get moved. But just because he wasn’t dealt last month doesn’t mean he still won’t be sent elsewhere during the 2017 MLB season.

Players can be traded before Sept. 1 if they clear revocable waivers, and Verlander has reportedly done just that. A deal with the Houston Astros would make the most sense, and the two teams have engaged in talks regarding Verlander since the trade deadline passed, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

READ: World Series Betting Odds After Trade Deadline Have Dodgers Ahead, Yankees In The Mix 

There is a certain level of risk involved in trading for the 34-year-old Verlander. He’s got at least two years and $56 million left on his contract after this season, and an option for $22 million in 2020 kicks in if he finishes in the top five of the 2019 Cy Young voting. That’s a lot of money committed to a veteran that had a 4.96 ERA on July 2.

Verlander has since turned things around, looking like the pitcher that finished second in the AL Cy Young voting last season. He was brilliant in a 10-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday night, allowing one hit and walking three in eight shutout innings. In his last seven starts, Verlander has a 1.91 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP, striking out 39 batters in 35 innings.

 

Detroit is nine games out of first place in the AL Central, and nine teams sit ahead of them in the AL Wild-Card Standings. They’ve already traded closer Justin Wilson to the Chicago Cubs, and they appear willing to deal Verlander at the right price.

Unlike Detroit, the time for Houston to win is now. They’ve easily been the AL’s best team this season, leading the league with a 71-42 record through 113 games. They are 13 games ahead of the Seattle Mariners in the AL West, and only the Los Angeles Dodgers have better odds to win the World Series.

Potential playoff teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox made multiple moves before the deadline in order to bolster their rosters. The Cleveland Indians traded for outfielder Jay Bruce Wednesday, making themselves a more viable World Series threat.

Houston has stood pat as the rest of the AL’s top teams have gotten better. The team made one minor move, acquiring Francisco Liriano, who has a 5.98 ERA on the season.

Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, pictured in the first inning of a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Aug. 4, 2017 in Baltimore, is still being mentioned in trade rumors after the trade deadline. Photo: Getty Images

Even if the Astros enter the playoffs with home-field advantage throughout the postseason, they will be beatable. Ace Dallas Keuchel has a 10.50 ERA in three starts since returning from the disabled list, and No.2 starter Lance McCullers Jr. is currently on the DL without a timetable for a return.

Houston certainly has the offense to win a championship. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa rank first and second, respectively, in WAR among AL position players, and George Springer has the league’s third-best OPS.

Verlander could be the missing piece that gets the Astros back to the World Series for the first time in 12 years.