What should the Tigers do at the trade deadline?
This is a question I have debated greatly. After a few weeks of consideration, I believe that I have finally made up my mind. I definitely think that we should sell at the deadline. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best decision for the future of the organization. The thing is, who should we keep? I will go through most of the players on our team below and give my opinion on what we should do with them.
The off-limits keepers
Michael Fulmer: He is the kind of player that you build a team around, and he is so young that even if we go through a couple year rebuild, he would still be on our team when we are coming back into contention. He isn't a free agent until 2023! The only chance of someone making me think about trading him is if someone like the Yankees offer their top five prospects for him or something ridiculous like that which will never happen, and, therefore, he is off-limits.
Daniel Norris: This may partially be due to him being my favorite player, but he also has the stuff to be a top of the rotation starter. His early career struggles could be an issue for some teams that are in contention, but since I think we should do a rebuild, they won't be an issue for us. I also think that we would be selling very low on him compared to his potential, so in my mind it is a no brainer to keep him.
Matt Boyd: This is another player that I think we would be selling low on and who I think has the potential to be a solid middle/back of the rotation starter or a lock-down reliever.
Basically all of our prospects: In the situation we are currently in, there is no reason for us to trade away prospects. Unless we need to add one of our lower-ranked prospects into a trade, I don't know why we would trade away prospects.
The almost guaranteed keepers
Miguel Cabrera: If we traded Cabrera right now, we would either have to pay almost all of his contract and get a fairly good prospect, or we would pay very little of his contract and get nothing. That is just the situation we are in with him right now, so selling him and his legacy in Detroit makes no sense for this organization. Also, imagine the fan base's reaction to selling Miguel Cabrera for almost nothing. I also would love to see Miggy stay a Tiger for the rest of his career and go into the hall of fame with almost his entire career in Detroit. The only way trading him would make any sense is if we are truly desperate for cash, but I personally believe the Ilitch family has enough funds to retain Cabrera for the rest of his career.
JaCoby Jones: He is young and we really don't have a replacement centerfielder, so unless a trade is made for one, there is no reason for us to trade him.
Jordan Zimmermann: The main reason Zimmermann is on this list is because of his contract. If we traded him, we would get nothing back and we would have to pay for most of his contract. We might as well keep him and see if he gets back to his old form.
Dixon Machado: He is young, cheap, and has good defense. He also just hit his first dinger, so what's not to like? Also, we wouldn't get much at all for him, and he could make for a solid replacement at second base or shortstop if we trade Iglesias or Kinsler.
James McCann: I really can't picture a scenario where we trade this guy, but I really wouldn't mind too much if we did. He's a nice young catcher, but he isn't that great defensively or offensively. The thing is, if we trade Avila we would basically need McCann, and I don't think we would get much of anything for him anyways.
The most likely keepers
Justin Upton: Although he is having a really good season, I can't see teams lining up to make a trade for him due to his option and the unknowns that come with it. If he were to opt out, teams would love to have him for a rental, but if he had a bad second half, teams probably wouldn't want to be stuck with his eighty million dollar salary over the next four years.
Mikie Mahtook: He is just not good enough to get us a solid prospect, and he is a valuable player for our organization, especially if J.D. is traded.
Nick Castellanos: He's only twenty-five and won't be a free agent till 2020. I fully believe that he hasn't bloomed into his full potential, so I don't see a reason not to keep him. The only reason I put him on this list is because the Red Sox are in need of a third baseman, and since Dombrowski drafted him I thought that there was a slight chance the Red Sox would overpay for Nick and make us a deal we that couldn't refuse for the confusing young hitter.
Andrew Romine: He is just a nice utility player to have on our team, and I don't see any teams making significant enough offers to trade him.
Victor Martinez: As much as I would like to trade him, no one in their right minds would take on that contract. He just isn't the same player he used to be. But there is always hope, right?
All of our relievers not named Shane Greene, Alex Wilson, or Justin Wilson: Besides the big three, we really don't have any other relievers that another team would want. If a team would make a good offer for one of them I probably wouldn't refuse it, but I can't see us trading any of them.
The potential trade candidates
Justin Verlander: Verlander is a guy that would crush me if he left. If I were the GM, I would not trade him unless he specifically told me that he wanted to play for a contender, and even in that situation I would demand a fairly high return for him. If he was still happy to play for Detroit, I would keep him. It may be because I grew up watching Verlander be the most dominate pitcher in the majors, but I still feel like it would be best for the team to keep him. Plus, I can't see us getting much for him if we did trade him, and I can't imagine our fan base being happy getting a mid-tier prospect for Justin Verlander.
Shane Greene: Shane Greene has had quite the up-and-down career. At this point, I would probably keep him since he isn't a free agent until 2021 and see how he matures as a player. If a team would make us the right offer, I would trade him for sure, but it would have to be a very good offer to make me want to trade him now.
Alex Wilson: Alex Wilson is the kind of guy that isn't a lock-down reliever that a team would give big prospects for, but he is still a solid reliever for our team. Once again, if a team would make the right offer, I would probably take it, but Alex would be a nice reliever to have even in a rebuild.
Ian Kinsler: The main reason Kinsler is on this list and not the next one is because I don't think there is a huge market for him. Not many teams right now need a second baseman. The Brewers could use one, and I am sure plenty of teams wouldn't mind having Kinsler on their roster, but I don't think we would be getting much of a return for him. If a team would make a good offer, I would most likely take it, but the way the market looks right now, I would probably wait until the offseason to trade him.
Jose Iglesias: I would have a hard time trading Iglesias because I really like him and because I have a huge Fathead of him on my bedroom wall. I also don't think that we would get much in return for him. Overall, I don't think trading him would be very beneficial for our team, but if the right offer would come along, I would probably take it. One thing to note though is if we would trade Kinsler I would probably not trade Iglesias.
Anibal Sanchez: I know that this is a long shot, but the way he is pitching now could just make him tradable. Starting pitchers are in high demand, so I don't think that it is a far reach picturing a team trading for this guy. Best case scenario, we would basically give him to another team for free and not pay any of his contract. More likely, however, we will still have to pay for some of his salary.
The for-sure trade candidates
J.D. Martinez: This one should be a given due to our record, how he has played, and his status as an upcoming free agent. He should get us a solid return as well which will definitely help our farm system. It will be a sad goodbye but a necessary one.
Alex Avila: I know there is the whole family-thing with Al Avila and Alex, but I think Alex should be traded and will be traded. He is having an incredible offensive season, so why not capitalize on it and bring back a solid prospect.
Justin Wilson: If last year's trade deadline was any indication, there is a high demand for solid relievers. We have one of those in Justin Wilson, and he is controllable for another year. I think that teams will be all over Wilson, and I would most definitely try to trade him now and capitalize on his worth. I know a good reliever is hard to get here in Detroit, but the return we could get for Justin Wilson would be hard to pass up.
Even though we do not have a lot of leverage with many of our players, I still would demand a fairly high asking price and see if teams would meet it. One reason for my high asking prices is even though I love prospects, I still realize that prospects are still just prospects and we would be giving up major league talent. Prospects aren't sure things, so I would want a high return to minimize the risk as much as possible. Our farm system could use all of the help it could get, so a good trade deadline could definitely help to straight the ship. Below is what I would ask for our potential trade candidates.
Verlander: A top-40 prospect, a team's top-10 prospect, and another lower prospect. Again, I know this is a very high asking price, but I would only trade him in the first place if he asked to be traded. If he really wanted to get out of Detroit I would probably accept a top-100 prospect and a couple of other decent prospects as long as the team pays his whole salary.
Shane Greene: A top-70 prospect due to his remaining team control. This is also a high asking price, but I don't see a need to trade him right now.
Alex Wilson: A team's top-10 prospect with solid upside. He is controllable and I think a team would pay this for him. Once again, however, I don't know if I would want us to do this deal.
Ian Kinsler: A top-75 prospect and possibly another lower-tier prospect with high upside. The main reason for this high price is his controllability. Also, don't forget that this offseason we were in talks with the Dodgers concerning a Kinsler/Bellinger trade, so just keep that in the back of your mind.
Jose Iglesias: A team's top-10 prospect and another high-upside prospect. Again, I don't really want to trade Iglesias, but this is probably the most he is worth if we would.
Anibal Sanchez: Nothing.
J.D. Martinez: A top-60 prospect. J.D. is the best available hitter and possibly the best overall player available this deadline. Even though he will be a free agent this offseason, I think we can get a really good prospect similar to the Cespedes deal if not even better. The prospect may not turn out as good as Fulmer did, but any highly-ranked prospect has potential.
Alex Avila: A team's top-10 prospect. A catcher that can hit like Avila is hitting right now is a rare commodity that I think a team will jump on.
Justin Wilson: A top-65 prospect. We might even be able to get a top-50 prospect if the Chapman and Andrew Miller deals are any indication of what teams are willing to spend for good relief arms. Wilson's team control makes him a very attractive trade piece.
Overall, it's very hard to decide what teams would be interested in players, mainly due to the chaos that is the American League wild card race. The Cubs are for sure interested in Verlander and Avila, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Dodgers or even the Yankees showed interest in Verlander as well. I truly don't want to trade him, but if he really wants to leave there isn't much else to do but to let him go. Almost every team could use good relievers, but I think the Washington Nationals are a very good fit for Justin Wilson.
As I said before, Ian Kinsler's market is small, so we will have to wait and see if there are any teams interested in him. J.D., on the other hand, should have loads of interest due to him being probably the top available hitter. My sleeper team for him is the Rays. They are within reach of the wild card but could use some offensive help, especially since they are in the AL East. They also have a good farm system, so a trade would definitely be doable.
In conclusion, I think we should aim for a rebuild. With some of the prospects we could get back for these players and the guys we have in the lower levels of our farm system, I think we could compete again in 2019. We may end up tanking for the rest of this season and 2018, but it should all be worth it in the end. This is just my opinion though. If you have any thoughts that you would like to add or any changes that you would make to my plan, please leave your comments below. I would love to hear your opinions on this incredible topic!