As Chris McCosky of The Detroit News writes, the Tigers are open to trading any of their veterans, and “if a team came to them today with a suitable offer for J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Justin Wilson or just about anybody else, they would certainly make the trade.” McCosky reports that the Tigers have been willing to sell for nearly a year, but they’re waiting on what they believe to be a fair return for their key players and thus haven’t pulled the trigger.
The Tigers’ two most accomplished players, Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, have 10-and-5 rights and can veto any trade, though Verlander said this spring that he’s “too old to be part of a rebuilding process,” so he might be open to a potential deal. Obviously, with Cabrera and Verlander both being 34 years old, the value that the Tigers would bring back for the two veterans would never match what they mean to the organization at this point in their careers.
With that said, it’d be easier for Detroit to move guys like Martinez, Kinsler, and relievers Justin Wilson and Alex Wilson. There’s not likely to be much of a desire for catching upgrades at the deadline this year, but GM Al Avila could also opt to trade his son, Alex, who is hitting .315/.436/.584 with 10 homers in 181 plate appearances this year, if a need arises for a contender.
Martinez, who is a free agent at the end of 2017, is likely to be the Tigers’ top trade chip, as he’s hitting .290/.382/.644 this season and is on pace to hit more than 20 homers for the fourth straight season. Even in an AL Central that is largely up for grabs, the Tigers are slipping further from contention by the day, as they’ve now lost seven straight and are nine games under .500 at 32-41. With Detroit expressing a desire to spend less money in the free agent market, it’s very improbable that they’ll be able to retain the 29-year-old right fielder beyond this season, so they should probably get all they can for him before the deadline.
The two Wilsons, particularly Justin (2.96 ERA, 1.10 WHIP this season), should also be of use to a contender if the Tigers can bring back a solid return. But Justin Wilson is under club control through 2018, while Alex Wilson is under control until 2019, so the Tigers will have more wiggle room if they feel like they’re not getting proper value for their premium bullpen arms.