Tigers offseason: 5 most pivotal players

Winslow Townson

Should the Tigers trade Max Scherzer? What about Prince Fielder? Read on to find out.

With the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings coming up soon, let's play a game: Which players should the Tigers definitely not trade, probably not trade, possibly trade, definitely get rid of and ... well, "listen to offers" and see what happens? That is the topic of this week's Rotation.

Must Keep -- this player should not be discussed in any trade scenario

Max Scherzer. I am not about to get wrapped up in the current idea the Tigers have too many starting pitchers and thus need to trade the Cy Young Award winner or one of his cohorts. Too many starting pitchers? Do you realize how lucky the Tigers were this year that they only needed six games to be started by a player outside their regular rotation? (Jose Alvarez, mostly when Anibal Sanchez had a short DL stint.) The argument that Drew Smyly should be a starter is a good one. But I'm not about to suggest the Tigers trade one of their top starters to make room for him. What happens if the luck runs out and there's suddenly little depth beyond the rotation's main five? And why does it have to be Scherzer? No. I don't trade Scherzer. Nosiree.

Should Keep -- this player should only be discussed at the highest premium

Doug Fister. As I wrote in a column in the News a few weeks back, trading Fister might make a little more sense. He was a tremendous acquisition from the Mariners for Charlie Furbush and some other fellows. Maybe the Tigers can now use him to cash in on a few (better) prospects or fill a need or two of their own. After all, he's primed to have a breakout year, he has two years before free agency and he's going to come at a nice discount this season compared to the price of Scherzer. A team ought to give up more value than they would for a pricey player about to become a pricey free agent. So if the move is right, take it. Otherwise I'm all for keeping the top four in this rotation together and turning it into another World Series run.

Neutral -- this player is valuable to your team as-is but could also bring a nice return

Rick Porcello. I just do not think the Tigers are going to get enough value in return to make this worth while. There are certainly arguments to be made, by Porcello's excellent FIP stat, that he would make a good acquisition for the right team -- especially a team with solid infield defense, at least compared to Detroit. But just because he has a good saber stat doesn't mean a team is going to overpay for a guy whose ERA is consistently worse than his FIP indicates it should be. Porcello is a back-end workhorse, but unlikely to get the Tigers a necessary piece. But if that offer comes along ... ? Go for it. Don't think twice. Take it.

Should Trade -- your team should trade this player while there's still value

Not Prince Fielder. Sorry, but in looking over the Tigers' roster repeatedly, it was hard to find a player I truly believe the Tigers should trade. Yes he is owed more than $180 million still. Regardless, his value to the Tigers outweighs what they should expect to get in return for him. In all likelihood they'd have to pony up some serious money to get a team to make a decent offer. That's not going to happen. Fielder's not going anywhere. Nor should he. Write it down.

Must Get Rid Of -- Do whatever it takes

Phil Coke. Him or Don Kelly, right? Look, Coke's season in 2013 was probably not indicative of what the Tigers will get out of him in 2014. It's easy to kick him when he's down, but he had a few injury issues and some usage issues by his manager. But I've already broken one rule this game -- and I'm not about to break two. So, let's say Coke.

How do your five stack up? I'll even make it easy for you. Just cut and paste the below:

Must keep --

Should keep --

Neutral --

Should trade --

Must get rid of --

Enjoy!

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