With The Window Closing, Tigers Have Options

Do you feel the wind dying down? That’s the Detroit Tigers’ window for a Championship closing.

Some people will tell you the window is already closed, and all you’re feeling is hope. Others won’t. I don’t think I’m in that group just yet.

But like the window shutting, I feel my hope is diminishing with each mounting loss.

The Tigers had a great run at it including two World Series appearances in the last 10 seasons, including four straight divisional titles from 2011-14. It’s something to be proud of, but pride comes before the fall.

It feels like disappointment – especially with the passing of Tigers owner Mike Illitch who wanted to win a championship as badly as any fan. You can’t be too down on an era that brought this town a lot to be happy about.

But if this is it for the Tigers, and they do go into the July 31 trade deadline with selling on their mind, I have a great way for them to do business.

(Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s start with the obvious move, trade J.D. Martinez. He’s a free agent at the end of the season and he’s on pace to make a boatload of money. Re-signing the 29-year-old slugger as the roster currently stands is highly unlikely. He’s going to want too much money, and the Tigers already have too much money spent elsewhere. Coffers are tight with the Tigers walking a tight rope with luxury tax.

As a rental player, it’s ok to trade him within the division. And the team that I think could use a big bat to bolster their line-up is the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe aren’t known to be big spenders. So using Martinez for half a season will be good enough for them.

Cleveland came so close to winning it all last season after losing a heart-breaking game seven to the Chicago Cubs. Cleveland has the pitching to win that final game, but the bat Martinez can bring to their line-up could put them over the top.

In return the Tigers should inquire about right-handed pitcher Triston McKenzie. The 19-year-old starter is the No. 50 prospect according to MLB.com and Cleveland’s number three prospect within the organization.

He has a long slim frame standing at 6-foot-5 and 165-pounds but the kid has been dealing in High-A ball this season. The Tigers should also ask about Cleveland’s No. 12 prospect shortstop Will Castro.

Jose Iglesias might not be around much longer and Castro could be his replacement down the line and give you options along with Andrew Romine and Dixon Machado.

If the Tigers are going to sell the right way then either one or both of Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander has to be dealt.

This is a tough decision because both players have given so much to the organization, and they’re two of the best at their respective positions. But Verlander has shown signs of slowing down and I believe he’s easier to replace out of the two.

Fulmer has already shown he has the moxie to be the Tigers’ ace, and with adding some more prospects in these trades, along with the development of Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris, I’m confident The Tigers could rebound from the move.

An average season for Cabrera is hitting a .320 average, blasting 34 home runs, and driving in 120 runs. Those are legendary numbers. He was recently on Buster Olney’s list of greatest right-handed hitters in the game; and Olney knows his stuff.

Plus even if Cabrera gets slower he can always DH once Victor Martinez is gone which is only another season away.

If Verlander starts to slow down he can really hurt this team. The only thing worse than having one Jordan Zimmerman on this team is having two of them.

A great fit for Verlander is in New York wearing pinstripes.

Justin Verlandwer (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

C.C. Sabathia is a free agent at the end of the season. So there’s $25 Million off their books that nearly pays for Verlander already. Plus Matt Holiday is a free agent giving the Yankees $13 Million and Michael Pineda another starting pitcher is also heading to free agency. Verlander has enough juice left to where I believe the Yankees would do it. He’s also a marketable guy especially with soon-to-be wife Kate Upton.

Even with Verlander’s age and contract I’m still a believer that you can get a nice haul back for him. He is a former Most Valuable Player, the only pitcher to do it in the American League since 1992, and he finished second in the Cy Young voting just last season.

The Tigers in this scenario could ask for starting pitcher Chance Adams who is number 99 on MLB.com’s Top-100 prospects list and seventh in the Yankees organization. The 22-year-old has been dominant in both AA and AAA this season and could see the big leagues as soon as this year in return. New York also sends outfielder Dustin Fowler the No. 8 prospect in the Yanks farm system.

So two trades in and the Tigers have sacrificed almost $40 million in payroll. This next player to be moved is a little more tricky.

Tiger outfielder Justin Upton has a no-trade clause, plus he has a player option with Detroit for the next four seasons. So teams may avoid him for those reasons. But, you only need to find that one team to dance with, and the San Francisco Giants need help – badly.

With some key injuries, the most notable being stud starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner who is out until after the All-Star break, the Giants could take on Upton and his contract looking to make a run at the playoffs.

Upton won’t be enough to muster a couple prospects back so I’m sending the Tigers No. 17 prospect Matt Hall with him.

Hall is a left-handed pitcher who can’t even touch 90 MPH on the gun and only has three pitches. In return the Tigers get another lefty back in Matt Krook. He’s the No. 12 prospect In the Giants organization and does have his red flags.

Oregon starting pitcher Matt Krook (21) warms up before the start of the first inning. (Michael Shaw/Emerald 2014)

Krook had Tommy John surgery back in college, which can be concerning. He’s also had control issues. The good news is when his game is on MLB.com says he can be “unhittable.” He has a big 6-foot-4 225-pound frame and can hit 96 MPH on the gun. At worst he’s a lefty reliever in the pen who can throw hard. Those are hard to find.

The Tigers also receive second basement Jalen Miller. He’s the No. 23 prospect for the Giants and would provide some infield depth in the Tigers organization. Out of the Tigers Top-30 prospects three of them are infielders. So Miller – along with Castro – will certainly help out.

So there you have it. Three trades and $61.88 million saved later. There were some tough decisions to be made but this is business and the Tigers need to look out for themselves while building toward the future.

There are three free agents the Tigers should go after when the season is over if they want to stay in contention for the playoffs next year.

Bryan Shaw is a 29-year-old relief pitcher for the Indians and only made $4.6 Million this season. He has a career earned run average of 2.98 in 415 appearances. He’s been a solid bullpen arm – something the Tigers always seem to be short of.

Lance Lynn is another veteran I’d love to see in a Tigers uniform to help replace Verlander. He’s been a member of the St. Louis Cardinals his entire career and done well for the historic franchise.

In 136 career starts Lynn has an ERA of 3.33 and a walks-hits per innings pitched of 1.29, which isn’t bad. Lynn made $7.75 Million this past year so he may cost around $15 Million to get.