Justin Verlander paced in the living room of his apartment in downtown Birmingham. He was agitated, anxiously mulling his options. Kate Upton, his supermodel fiancée, was with him as he repeated: “Trust your instincts. Trust your instincts.”

Verlander, the Tigers’ longtime ace right-hander, called his agent as midnight approached Aug. 31. He called members of his family and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane. He had spent 13 seasons with the Tigers, helping them reach two World Series and serving as the catalyst for one of the most successful runs in franchise history. Armed with a no-trade clause, under the league’s 10-5 rule, he could have ended negotiations with the Astros at any time. Instead, he peppered Crane and his prospective Houston teammates with questions.

"What are we talking about in two years? What are we talking about right now? What's the locker room like? What are these guys like? What's the town like?" Verlander recounted in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. "There was just a hurricane there. Obviously, they're in bad shape as a city. What's that like? Can I live somewhere?”

As Crane told the Chronicle, “the big thing…was that (Verlander) had never been traded. He didn’t know a lot about the city (of Houston). … I told him, ‘This town is going to be fine. It’s going to take time.’ ” In those waning minutes, over the phone, Astros former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel urged Verlander: “Obviously, your window for winning in Detroit is damn-near closed, and ours is wide open.” Finally, midpace, Verlander turned to Upton and said: “Screw it. We’re going to Houston.”