At 45-54, the Tigers are sitting 7 games out of the second AL Wild Card spot, and 8.5 out of the AL Central lead. The Central is actually one of the tighter divisions in baseball though, and with a hot week or two or ten, Detroit is right back into the running. With speculation that the Tigers are shopping their best players around the league, it makes you wonder. What should the Tigers do? After coming out of the All Star break guns blazing, they’ve cooled off heavily, and sit 6-6 after the break. Respectable, for sure, but not where anybody thought they’d be before the season.
Through 99 games, the Tigers are in no position to buy. Not even close. At all. No John, not even the slightest chance of them being buyers in a week-ish. But the question of whether or not they should sell remains on the table. Now, I’m super optimistic, anybody that’s read what I’ve written knows that with the utmost certainty. But even I know that it’s time to sell. I think it kind of goes without saying though. Yes Tigers fans, Justin Verlander should be gone. Ian Kinsler should be gone. Justin Wilson should be gone. JD Martinez is already gone.
While those both hurt to say, it’s the harsh reality of a team in desperate need of rebuilding, and Al Avila can’t play the Ken Holland card of “rebuilding on the fly” simply because it’s just not possible for the Tigers. With no cap space and having one of the worst player development programs in all of baseball, it is far beyond the time to jump ship.
In terms of a return for a guy like Verlander, the ideal scenario would be a top prospect, and a couple mid-level prospects. But the ideal scenario is just that–ideal. Realistically the return for Verlander would be a couple mid-level prospects, and a low-level prospect. Since the Cubs are being linked to him so much, it’s only right to take a look at their prospects and make a bit of a wishlist. It’s fair to say that their top-10 prospects are off limits for the Tigers to just get Verlander in return. A guy like outfielder Charcer Burks is an intriguing option. With 71 strikeouts in 324 plate appearances, his discipline could use some work, but otherwise he is an on-base machine, and a threat to steal bases once he becomes more aggressive. Another mid-level guy that is intriguing is pitcher Duane Underwood. For whatever reason, I keep going back to the kid. He’s 23 years old and has been shaky, at best, in Double-A ball this season. And on top of that, he’s inconsistent as all hell. All signs point to no on this kid, but he’s got a mean fastball. He needs to prove he can hold the velocity late into games and over a full season, though that will come. For on reason or another, I’m high on this kid, and think the Tigers will need to take a flyer on him if they give the Cubs Verlander.
On a return for Ian Kinsler and Justin Wilson, just clumping these two together because they’ve both been linked with a move to the Brewers. I think the return would, unfortunately, be the same as the Verlander trade. One or two mid-level prospects and a low level prospect. In terms of the mid-level prospect(s), I look at a guy like Monte Harrison. The Brewers have an abundance of outfielders in their system, so prying him away from the Brewers shouldn’t be too-too hard. Another guy that gets on base a lot, and a threat to steal bases, Harrison is a very intriguing option. Another guy is right-handed pitcher Cody Ponce. The former second-round pick doesn’t have the greatest velocity in the world, but has good control. He also has some questions about his durability. Those attributes should sound at least somewhat familiar to Tigers fans, as Michael Fulmer had near the same ones. Fulmer had had durability questions after coming from the Mets, but we see where that has him. Ponce could do the same with Detroit should they get him from the Brewers.
It’s hard to pick a low-level prospect from the teams because MLB.com only has the top-30 from each organization, but that’s neither here nor there. Even getting Burks and lower-level prospects from the Cubs for Verlander, and getting Ponce and lower-level prospects from the Brewers for Kinsler and Wilson could bode well for the Tigers, who have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Tigers fans, it’s time to kick back and hope for the best.