Detroit’s inaction on the trade market will be costly

Tigers ownership won’t give GM Al Avila the okay to shed salary, and that’s going to be costly for Detroit.

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Photo Credit: Detroit Jock City

During our podcast on Monday night, I very quickly discussed Detroit’s inaction on the trade market. It appears that the Tigers think they can still compete, because they didn’t seriously attempt to move Verlander or Justin Upton; and that’s going to be a problem in the future.

Detroit’s ownership seems to be operating under the impresssion that their roster can still compete with its aging core, despite the clear decline from several of its stars. For example, Verlander is in the middle of the worst year of his career to this point; he’s walking 3.94 batters per nine innings (second worst to only his rookie season in 2005), the 34-year old has the third highest FIP of his career at 4.13, and the hard hit ball rate is at 36%…also the highest of his career. With the number of teams that were, and are, seeking pitching help heading into the non-waiver deadline, its likely that the Tigers could have moved Verlander for several prospects — as long they ate a bunch of his salary — to begin the rebuilding process that Detroit clearly needs.

While Verlander has cleared waivers, and the Astros have expressed interest, it’s unlikely that the Tigers will agree to trade their aging star…despite the need to shed salary and/or restock the farm system.

Even when one of Detroits aging stars is playing well, they still pose a problem for the Tigers’ future. Justin Upton has had a pretty solid season so far — he’s hitting .277/.365/.525 with a wRC+ of 136 — but his contract gives him the ability to opt out of it at the end of this season, which would leave Detroit without one of the cornerstone’s from the last few seasons. Since Upton has performed so well this season, and he could be gone at the end of this season, it’s hard to see why the Tigers didn’t attempt to move him at the deadline as well. 

Yes, the trade market for position players isn’t nearly as active as it has been for pitchers. But the Tigers still could have gotten a decent prospect, or two, for an outfielder that has played well this season and could have lengthened the lineup for any contending team — like Kansas City, which acquired Melky Cabrera to improve its outfield by the deadline. Detroit didn’t really attempt to move Upton, and now his trade value is really low during the waiver period; if he walks, the Tigers will be left with nothing. 

Instead, the Tigers moved JD Martinez and Justin Wilson for some farm system filler. Which  While Detroit was sitting on its hands, the Chicago White Sox tore their roster down to its studs, which netted them a bunch of prospects, to begin its rebuilding process; that’s what the Tigers should have done this season…but they decided to stay the course instead, and that’ll be costly. 

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