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MLB trade rumors: J.D. Martinez is MLB’s No. 1 trade candidate

Detroit’s most likely trade candidate could bring future stars in a deal.

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images has come out with a list of the Top 60 trade candidates as the July 31 non waiver trade deadline approaches, and the Tigers have several prominent names on the list. J.D. Martinez tops the list at No. 1. This is very good news for Tigers’ fans hoping to get a nice return at the trade deadline for the Tigers’ slugger.

Closer Justin Wilson comes in at No. 6, and Alex Avila at No. 12. Justin Verlander ranks 25th, and Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton are 38th on the list. For more information on their value, look at our breakdown here. Here is J.D. Martinez’s trade profile:

Contract: Signed a 2 year contract that expires at the end of this season, with an average annual value of $ 9.25 million and a salary of $ 11.75 million in 2017. Will cost about $ 4 million to a new club.

Trade limitations: Martinez does not have an opt out clause. As a free agent, if the Tigers were to make him a qualifying offer, which they surely would if he is not traded, he would cost his new team a first or second round draft pick. But that’s next year.

Why he should be traded:

Martinez is the most obvious trade candidate on the Tigers’ roster due to the fact his contract expires at the end of the 2017 season, and the club has shown no interest in paying the freight to keep him beyond the current season. His contract is very reasonable at $11.75 million per season, which would translate to about $4 million for the rest of the year if he were to be moved near the end of July.

Martinez has been among the Tigers’ most productive offensive players since his breakout season in 2014. He leads the team in home runs and slugging percentage in that span, and is second only to Miguel Cabrera in batting average, on base percentage, and wOBA. MLB trade rumors projects he will be the top free agent position player on the market after this season.

Adding to the incentive to trade Martinez is the fact the Tigers can only receive a supplemental fourth round draft pick for losing him, because their payroll is well above the luxury tax threshold. Otherwise, they could receive a supplemental first round draft selection should another team give Martinez a contract in excess of $50 million total value.

Trade value: In exchange for Martinez, the Tigers would like to receive a package similar to what they got from the New York Mets for Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline in July, 2015. In that deal, the Tigers received pitchers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa. They then flipped Cessa to the New York Yankees, along with pitcher Chad Green, to get Justin Wilson.

Cespedes was earning a similar salary and posting comparable offensive numbers at the time of the trade, but is easily superior to Martinez defensively. When Cespedes hit free agency, he signed a one year contract (after opting out) to stay in New York for $27.5 million, then signed a four year extension worth $110 million, a higher average annual value than any contract given to an outfielder in major league history.

There is not a contender in major league baseball who wouldn’t love to add J.D. Martinez’s bat to their lineup for $4 million as they make a playoff push. Other premier outfielders who may be available include the RoyalsLorenzo Cain and the PiratesAndrew McCutchen. The Royals are not looking like sellers at this time, so the Tigers are sitting in a good position to deal.

While Tigers’ general manager Al Avila may be able to negotiate a package similar to what the Tigers got for Cespedes, the key to success of the deal would be getting players who develop as hoped after the trade.

Fulmer had a 1.88 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP at double-A Binghamton at the time of the trade, and was the No. 7 prospect in the Mets’ organization. He was the No. 47 prospect according to Baseball America after the 2015 season, and No. 1 in the Tigers’ organization. He went to double-A Erie while Cessa started with the Tigers in Toledo. The Tigers acquired pitchers Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd in exchange for David Price at the same time, and both of them were considered to be closer to the major leagues, and did in fact break into the majors before Fulmer.

Detroit was apparently listening to offers for Martinez and other players during the past offseason, but they didn’t hear any offers that they liked enough to part with their premier slugger. They now hope that the pressure of a pennant race will inspire more lucrative offers at the trade deadline.

Teams don’t usually part with top tier prospects for pending free agents, but Dave Dombrowski held out to get Fulmer. If Avila can land a prospect or two who are in the class of a Fulmer or Norris for Martinez, he would be doing quite well. What happens after that depends on how well they’ve scouted the players they receive in the trade.