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2018 MLB Trade Deadline: Are the Detroit Tigers going to be buyers or sellers?

The Tigers are in a rebuild and have some pieces that some contending teams could use, so the answer is clear.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.

Detroit Tigers: 40-57, 3rd in the AL Central

Even though they reside in the worst division in baseball this year, the Tigers are not going to make a run for the playoffs, as they are 12 12 games behind the Indians. But, that is the price of rebuilding, something they started at last year’s non-waiver deadline in an effort to build a younger, talented roster.

With that being said, the Tigers still have some players who they could deal and get some quality prospects in return, so it makes sense that they will be sellers over the next couple of weeks.

What moves have they made so far?

Detroit hasn’t made any big trades or signings yet, but it’s most impactful move that it had to make was put All-Star first baseman Miguel Cabrera on the 60-day disabled list after he ruptured his biceps tendon on June 12 and had to undergo season-ending surgery.

The Cabrera injury has cost the Tigers a chance at trying to trade him and his big contract (he’s still owed $154 million over the next five seasons and has a pair of $30 million vesting options for 2024 and 25 if he finishes in the top ten in the MVP race in 2023 and 2024). However, it has given the Tigers a glimpse of how their lineup will have to transition as Cabrera gets older and becomes less of the focal point in the heart of the order.

Who could they sell?

The Tigers still have a few trade chips that could land them a lot of prospects. Two of them are starter Michael Fulmer and outfielder Nick Castellanos, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today has reported that the Tigers are “listening” to offers on Fulmer and that they have made Castellanos “available” as well.

Prying Fulmer from the Tigers will not be easy, as the 25-year-old right-handed is under control through 2022. Because of that and his projected high ceiling, the Tigers want a lot in return for Fulmer, which means that only a few teams have the resources to make that kind of an offer. Among the teams that have been mentioned as having interest were the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies and Padres.

As for Castellanos, he is having a career season at the plate (.306/.362/.523 in 92 games). The catch, though, is that he is still a defensive liability, despite switching from third base to right field. Still, he is under contract through 2019, so he could be useful for a contender beyond this season.

In addition, the Tigers have Francisco Liriano, Shane Greene, Matthew Boyd, Jose Iglesias, Leonys Martin and James McCann as possible players to deal.

Liriano, Greene and Boyd will naturally give the Tigers more of a return if they are dealt because they are pitchers who could be used for depth (either back end of rotation or bullpen) on contending teams. Liriano proved that last year, when he was traded to the Astros and helped them win the World Series as a reliever. As for Iglesias, Martin and McCann, they may not generate as much because their positions (shortstop, outfield, and catcher) are not in demand for contending teams.

Predictions

The Tigers will deal either Liriano or Greene by the time the deadline comes. Because of Liriano’s flexibility as a starter and reliever and Greene’s ability to pitch either as a closer or middle reliever, the Tigers will get a couple more prospects to help continue their rebuild.

A deal for Fulmer or Castellanos will not happen because the Tigers will not find a package they like for either player. The fact that Fulmer is still under contract for a long times and the fact that Castellanos is not a free agent until 2019 makes it not a pressing need for the Tigers to deal them now.