With General Manager Al Avila telling the media that the organization plans to get younger and cheaper, many fans have speculated about which of their favorite players will be wearing something other than the Old English "D" next season. Every offseason for close to a decade, the Tigers have seemed to be one big move from contending for not just the AL Central, but for a deep October run. Many fans feel the same exact way this year, but the reality of a surprising last minute Prince Fielder or Justin Upton type signing, which was a signature of the Dave Dombrowski era in Detroit, seems highly unlike, if not impossible.
Players on the Block
GM Al Avila has already made it clear that he is listening to offers on anyone on the roster this offseason. Lets start with the players that are most likely to stay put, at least for now. Nick Castellanos, James McCann and Jose Iglesias appear to be the core of the young nucleus of position players that have spent any substantial time on the major league roster. They are young, have controllable contracts and are all proven to be MLB ready. The pitching staff is almost guaranteed to feature recently named AL ROY Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. The rest seems up in the air at this point.
Some obvious omissions from the list of "keepers" are the two faces of the franchise: former MVP and 2016 Cy Young finalist Justin Verlander, and 2012 AL Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. These two players make up a significant portion of the teams committed payroll going forward. (Cabrera is signed through the year 2025) Both are coming of very good seasons and might not ever be this valued in the trade market again. In Verlander's case in particular, the market for starting pitching is one of the worst in recent memory and could drive up the return that the Tigers will expect for their ace. It would obviously be bittersweet after all of the great memories the two have brought to Tigers' fans, but baseball is a business, and trading the two future Hall of Famers might be the smartest thing for the Tigers to do at this point.
Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and JD Martinez have all been mentioned in trade talks as well. JD is reportedly the most likely player to be on the move after another solid season, even through an injury to his forearm that landed him on the DL for a significant time.
If the team enters into fire-sale mode, expect to see outfielder Justin Upton, starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez to draw a lot of interest as well. These players have some questions to answer about consistency and health first however, so the Tigers' trade talks might pick back up in full force at the trade deadline for these players in particular.