Are the Detroit Tigers on the verge of a fire sale? The Tigers have been one of the best teams in the American League over the past decade, yet they don’t have a single World Series title to show for it in that time. So far in 2017, Detroit has just been treading water and they have looked like anything but a team that could make a push for the American League title.
If things don’t shape up fast, many players could be shipping out soon.
According to an SB Nation report, the Detroit Tigers will make all of their veteran players available for trade if they are below.500 by the end of June, sources told Jon Morosi of MLB Network. Heading into tonight’s match-up against the Chicago White Sox, Detroit is currently 22-24 and in third place in the AL Central. While the Tigers have underachieved in many MLB experts’ and Tigers fans’ eyes alike, isn’t it a bit premature to have someone leak a possible fire sale in May?
Detroit may be struggling at the moment, but fortuitously for them, so is the entire AL Central. Either way, when MLB expert Jon Morosi has some information to spread, it is usually the truth.
If #Tigers are still under .500 by end of June, sources say they'll revert to stance from November: All veterans will be available in trade.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) May 26, 2017
“Morosi says this is the stance that the Tigers took in the winter after surpassing the luxury-tax limit last year and having a payroll that was in the top five in baseball. Tigers general manager Al Avila said to Jason Beck of MLB.com at the time that he wanted the Tigers to get younger without shelling out more cash than they have, but they kept most of their team intact.”
The Detroit Tigers do have some hefty contracts they are dealing with right now, and some of them may actually be too big to even try to make an offer for.
First off, Miguel Cabrera is signed through 2023, with options for 2024 and 2025. Miggy will be collecting 30 million or more for those upcoming seasons, and truthfully, he may be someone Detroit shouldn’t think about trading. Eventually, Cabrera is going to become the Tigers’ designated hitter. If and when he does, he could play until he is 40. Just look at David Ortiz. Cabrera just has a gift to hit a baseball, and trading him for anything short of the next so-called top five prospects would be a huge mistake.
Cabrera aside, the Detroit Tigers have a ton of money tied into Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmerman, and Anibal Sanchez.
Like Cabrera, Justin Verlander is a keeper. First of all, Detroit will never get fair trade value for Verlander. JV is under contract until 2019 at $28 million a season, and the Tigers have a club option of $22 million for the 2020 campaign. Verlander could also be effective until he is 40 years old — that is if Detroit decides to move him to the pen as their closer a year or two down the road. Seriously, Justin Verlander could become one of the better closers in the game.
Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz made the move to the bullpen, and it not only lengthened their careers, but also made their teams better. Verlander could some day join that club of pitchers with 200-plus wins along with 100 or more saves.
The two names that keep coming up as strong possibilities to be dealt in July if the Detroit Tigers don’t right the ship are 29-year-old outfielder J.D. Martinez and 34-year-old second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Martinez and Kinsler were both rumored to be in trade discussions over the winter. In fact many believed a Kinsler trade to the Dodgers was going to happen before spring training began. The problem for the Tigers in dealing Kinsler and Martinez is that they don’t have anyone waiting in the wings to take over. Both Martinez and Kinsler are free agents (Kinsler has a $12 million option, $5 million buyout), while JD Martinez will be free to leave if he chooses. Kinsler does have a 10-team no trade clause and would only agree to a trade if he was guaranteed a contract extension on his current contract.
While the Tigers do have a number of huge contracts on the books, most other teams do as well. After all, it is the MLB owners who choose not to have a salary cap in baseball.
Maybe instead of thinking about how they can shrink the payroll by dumping good players that the team needs (unless they are ready to go back to 1975), the Detroit Tigers should think about winning some games and making a postseason run. After all, we haven’t even officially hit Memorial Day.
[Featured Image by Bob Levey/Getty Images]