The Detroit Tigers have far fewer assets to deal at the MLB trade deadline this season compared to a year ago, but that does not mean they will be completely void of action. Francisco Liriano and Mike Fiers are the obvious candidates, as back-end starting pitchers are always a sought-after commodity, and Jose Iglesias could see some interest as well.
However, the two most valuable players on the roster are Michael Fulmer and Nicholas Castellanos, and it appears that the Tigers have received some interest on both. Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Detroit is engaging on talks on both players.
Nightengale claims that the price tag for Fulmer is “steep,” as it should be for the former AL Rookie of the Year. Fulmer has experienced some bumps in Year Three, but at just 25 years old and a high ceiling, it would make no sense for the Tigers to sell him short of a massive return.
It was Nightengale who previous reported that the Dodgers are one of the teams interested in the Tigers’ righty, but the suitors for Fulmer are likely much larger than just Los Angeles. Any contending team could use a No. 2 or No. 3 starter who is under club control for the next four years. The Phillies, Yankees, and even Padres are names that have be tossed around when discussing Fulmer.
The more interesting aspect of Nightengale’s report is the Tigers willingness to make Castellanos available. A position switch has not remedied his defensive woes, but Castellanos is experiencing a career year at the plate. His performance has been come at a time when the rest of the Tigers lineup is average at best, further drawing attention to him.
It can be tough to know what the return would be for someone like Castellanos, a bat-only player who is not on an expiring contract. Detroit fans learned last season that trades can often be underwhelming, so moving Castellanos would only make sense with a quality prospect or two coming back.
Given his defensive struggles and the current Tigers’ prospect pipeline, though, this could be the time to cash in on Castellanos’ value. It is difficult to see exactly where his best position on the field should be going forward; his poor defensive limits the places he can play, and a number of outfield prospects in the system will need a spot in Detroit eventually. Selling now for a good price could alleviate this future headache while also strengthening the organization’s depth.
Castellanos does has another season left on his contract and is apparently a positive veteran presence in the clubhouse. Now may not be the best time to sell him, especially during a year where the trade market looks to favor buyers. It still makes sense for the Tigers to field offers for Castellanos (and Fulmer), but the front office should resist making a deal outside of a massive return.