There isn’t much for the Detroit Tigers’ to be excited about at this point of the season. What can fans look forward to come November?
Once again the Detroit Tigers have had a disappointing season. The team with the 4th highest payroll in the major leagues is currently the 5th worst team in baseball. The Illitch family will be looking to shed money fast, and Al Avila should have the green light to trade anyone on the team. So what is this upcoming offseason going to look like? Here are my predictions:
1. Justin Upton will opt-out.
This only makes perfect sense. Justin Upton is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, and he was an All-Star. Currently Upton is hitting just below .280, has 23 home runs, and 85 RBI’s. He also plays left-field, which would make him an upgrade for nearly any team that plans to contend.
Upton is on a losing team that doesn’t look like it will compete next season. On top of that, he should risk getting paid less to play on a team that wins. He doesn’t seem excited in Detroit, and will be looking for a new team to play on next season.
2. Justin Verlander will be traded.
If Justin Verlander remains in a Tigers uniform throughout August, expect deals for him to be revisited come November. However, if the Tigers want a good return for him, they should hope to deal him sooner rather than later.
Recently Verlander has been on a tear on the mound. He has won 3 of his last 4 performances, and each has been a complete game. There are also teams desperate to add starting pitching like the Houston Astros and the Milwaukee Brewers. These teams are able to add a contract like Verlander’s, and have the dept to trade some prospects to get him. A deal with either of these teams just makes sense, and if it doesn’t get done during August, it could come up again near the Winter Meetings.
3. J.D. Martinez will be interested in a return to Detroit, but will sign elsewhere.
Detroit Tigers’ fans had a tough pill to swallow when Al Avila decided to ship J.D. Martinez to the Diamondbacks for 3 prospects. He was a fan favorite in Detroit and also expressed his love for Detroit multiple times. He said in his farewell message, “Detroit will forever be my home away from home.”
This lead to some suspicion among fans that he could return after his contract is up at the end of the year. However, I don’t see this happening. There are going to be too many teams interested in adding a bat like J.D.’s. The Tigers are also about to start a rebuild, and Martinez is set to be 30 next season. A potential landing spot for J.D. would be the Washington Nationals, especially if they lose out on Bryce Harper this offseason.
4. Ian Kinsler’s contract will be picked up.
The Detroit Tigers have a very interesting thing to consider with Ian Kinsler‘s contract. First of all, he has a club option for next season. The Tigers would be very foolish not to pick that up. Even with a fairly large contract, Kinsler has some trade value.
The Tigers won’t get much in a trade for Kinsler because of his age, expiring contract, and the amount he is owed. Yet, picking up his option is clearly the right decision. He could still bring in a prospect to an average farm system in Detroit.
Even if Detroit cannot find a trade partner, Kinsler will still be valuable to the team. His veteran experience could help young guys like Dixon Machado, Jeimer Candelario, and Dawel Lugo adjust to the big leagues next season.
5. Victor Martinez will retire.
Victor Martinez will retire at the end of the season. It just makes sense. Victor is having one of the worst seasons of his career, and he is just getting too old to play baseball. The 38-year old veteran has been demoted from clean-up to 5th or 6th in the order. Along with that, the Tigers may look into moving Miguel Cabrera to DH.
Victor also just doesn’t seem to have his heart into playing baseball anymore. He looks tired and appears to be in a lot of pain. It seems it may be time for Victor to move on from baseball, at least as a player.
6. Fulmer trade talks will continue.
Michael Fulmer was at the center of some trade talks around July’s trade deadline, and they have continued since. The Cubs and Braves expressed interest in the young right hander, but other teams will surely be interested if Fulmer becomes available.
Fulmer has been very impressive in his first two seasons as a Tiger. He was the RoY last season, and an all-star this year. He has posted a 21-17 record with a 3.4 ERA, and he has that it factor so many teams are looking for in a young pitcher.
Expect the market for Fulmer to grow and if a deal gets done, anticipate it to be similar to the Shelby Miller to Arizona deal that completely cleared out the D-backs system.
This offseason has a lot riding on it. The Detroit Tigers will hopefully make the decision final to start a complete rebuild. This will make nearly every player available and make the offseason a very bittersweet one. Expect a lot of new faces in Detroit in April of 2018.