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Tigers Den Roundtable: What if the Tigers trade Justin Verlander or Miguel Cabrera?

GM Al Avila has fans spooked over what is to come this offseason. What if the worst were to happen?

Division Series - Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics - Game Two Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Throughout his tenure in Detroit, Dave Dombrowski played things very close to the vest. He was careful with his words when speaking with the media, and had a way of giving himself an out in just about any situation. Fans learned to take anything he said to the media with a grain of salt.

So far, this caution has gone out the window with new general manager Al Avila. The Tigers’ new(ish) head man held his end-of-year press conference on Tuesday, and gave fans plenty of pause when he spoke about the team’s desire to eventually cut payroll, get younger, and build from within. We have heard Avila emphasize this ideal from day one, but his words held a certain weight this time around.

Naturally, fans panicked a bit. Beloved players like J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler, and others could potentially be on the move this winter, much to the dismay of a sizable portion of the fanbase.

But what if the Tigers are more aggressive than that? Lynn Henning of the Detroit News has hinted at the Tigers potentially dangling Justin Verlander in trade talks for months now, and we are seemingly closer than ever to this previously unfathomable idea becoming a reality. Would the Tigers actually entertain the idea of trading Verlander or Miguel Cabrera in hopes of creating a more sustainable model for future success? It makes me a bit queasy just thinking about it, to be honest.

This week’s question: Would you be OK with the Tigers trading either Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander? Why or why not?

Pat Whelan: I wouldn't feel good about trading either of them, but I also know that having both of those $30 million contracts through 2019 is probably going to end badly. My head says to move Cabrera, because five additional years at $30 million apiece seems like a terrible idea, but I really want to watch him break all those records in a Tigers jersey. Verlander is my favorite player, so I don't type this lightly, but if I were going to trade one, it would be him. He is coming off a Cy Young caliber year and will be 34 next season. Selling high now for young pitching may not be the worst idea.

Ashley: I'd hate every single second of it, but Cabrera might be at just the right age to trade for top value. If he could be traded for a hot young batter, a decent starting pitcher, and/or maybe a good middle relief arm? Possibly. It would also clear up a lot of room in the budget to allow for re-signing other players or picking up new guys. Verlander should get to retire a Tiger. Don't move him.

Kyle: The Tigers should only trade either Cabrera or Verlander in concert with a host of other moves. Losing one of the faces of the franchise would be difficult in itself, but doing so while keeping other bulk on the roster would be a slap in the face. If they want to sell, then sell everyone. If not, these two should be kept until the very end.

Fielder’s Choice: I would be OK with it the way Clark Griswold was OK with his subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club.

Brandon: My initial reaction is that no, I wouldn't be "okay" with it. Still I can see baseball reasons for doing so. If you're trading Verlander for Julio Urias, for example, yeah I could see that as a smart move. I will also potentially defect to the Dodgers as a result. We're talking about my all-time favorite player here, after all. However, trading one of them simply to cut payroll is anathema, particularly considering the huge amount of bad money Avila added last season. Such a trade would crush attendance, which is already faltering to the point it might end as a net loss financially.

Jeff R.: With most trades, you want to receive the best player in the deal. Usually, that player is currently the one that is in the major leagues. However, we'll never know how a hypothetical deal panned out until years after Cabrera or Verlander is traded. From a marketing standpoint, I always said they were immovable. In full-on rebuild mode, though, nobody is untouchable. I have liked both players and appreciate what they have done on the field, but if trading them makes the Tigers better, I'm all for it. Winning a World Series in Detroit is more important than keeping a franchise player.

Peter: Maybe, but probably not. A straight salary dump for a marginal return would not sit well and my tears would be flowing like waterfalls. Even if the return was fair or overwhelming, I probably would never entirely get over it, but I'd be more understanding. Those two are franchise players and I'd like to see them retire as Tigers and become immortalized in statue form. Baseball is a business, though, and the Tigers haven't won a title in over 30 years.


Eye of the Tigers: I would not be okay with the Tigers trading either Cabrera or Verlander, regardless of what they might bring in return. I think they have contributed too much to the team to be traded now. They have earned enough respect and deserve to retire as Tigers. Both of them are still very good players, especially Verlander — he is in the running for the American League Cy Young award, and many of you will argue that he should win it. I feel that while they would both bring a huge return, they need to stay in Detroit.

Patrick OKennedy: Probably not, because it is very unlikely that the Tigers could get as much talent in return. Verlander and Cabrera have very expensive contracts, so a team taking on those contracts isn't going to give up the money plus an enormous amount of major-league-ready talent for them.

Les Lim: This question tears me apart. Trading Cabrera would mark the end of an era, and no matter the return, I would mourn for the loss. But for me, Verlander represents something deeper.

Like many, my commitment to Tigers fandom was laid brick-by-brick between 2003 and 2006, as the city and state rallied behind a downtrodden and disregarded team that rose to become a pennant winner and perennial World Series contender. It did so because of those who chose Detroit knowing the way forward would be difficult, and because of those who chose to stay, knowing the job wasn’t finished.

Justin Verlander is the last link to 2006, probably the most consequential and definitive Tigers season since 1984. Trading him might be the best way to bolster the Tigers’ World Series chances for the next couple seasons. But winning a World Series while must-see-JV watches from home would only break my heart.

Jacob: I have never not lived in the JV/Miggy era. They are the cornerstones of this team. If they are traded, there will be no more Tigers as we know them. It will be the end of an era, and that will be sad. It will hurt if they are traded, and it will hurt a lot. The only way I’d be okay with trading Miggy is if the return is nearly unfathomable, but there is nothing that could make me trade JV. Verlander is the very essence of today’s Detroit baseball. He needs to retire a Tiger.

Even from a cold, unemotional standpoint, there is almost no way I trade either. Both are the best of their respective positions, and both are at positions where the market is shallow. The sheer number and quality of prospects that it would take to make a pair of fair trades would easily make the Tigers’ system a top-10 system. I cannot think of a single team that would be both willing and able to deal that kind of prospect firepower.