The success of a GM in baseball can largely depend on his ability to wheel and deal with some effectiveness. I think it is safe to say that David Dombrowski has come out on top more often than not when making trades as the Tigers GM. But this isn’t about his scorecard. It’s about finding out who might be the best commodity that he could use this off-season.
To be traded, a player is going to have to possess some certain factors, including; salary, age, talent level, utility, and likelihood that the Tigers could stand to part with the player. In effect, does it even make sense for the Tigers to move the guy if they feel the return could help?
Salary. This is probably obvious, but a player with the lower level salaries tend to be more attractive on the trade market. In baseball, it’s not just about low salary however, it’s about team control. How long is that player under a team’s control before they hit free agency? The Tigers have several players that fit under this category. Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, Rick Porcello, Doug Fister, and Max Scherzer are all guys that are relatively cheap, and have some team control for a couple more years.
Age. Obviously when discussing a players trade value, age is going to affect the value. The younger, obviously the better for the team that is acquiring the player. Teams like to have a player that is going into their prime, which is usually the 26-30 year old range.
Talent Level. I shouldn’t have to say much here. Talent level is in the eye of the beholder, but obviously the more talented, the more desirable, or easily traded.
Utility. This is one that can affect a players ability to be traded more than anything. What I mean is, does the player provide something that is coveted by enough teams in the league? For instance, do they possess a gold glove as a CF? Or provide right handed power off a bench, or kill lefties?
Availability. Can the Tigers even afford to move the guy? In other words the player might be tradeable, but his utility to the Tigers is worth way more than what he could bring in a deal.
Now, I do understand that pretty much every player can be had for the right price. Nobody is irreplaceable. However, if we are being realistic, there are players that are tougher to deal than others, and some players you just don’t want to deal. Miguel Cabrera isn’t going anywhere, and neither is Justin Verlander.
This list isn’t to suggest that these are the only tradeable Tigers, or even that they are going to be dealt, but rather to assess their value on the market, coupled with the Tigers willingness to part with them.
5. Alex Avila
Avila might actually be the easiest Tiger to deal, if not for his importance to the team that currently owns his rights. He is a 24 year old All Star that is cheap, under team control through 2015, talented, and if anything is just scratching the surface of what he can be on a yearly basis. You don’t get rid of a guy like this at a premium position like catcher, but if the Tigers did, he could bring in a mighty good haul. Or should. The Tigers just don’t have a viable replacement for Avila, and therefore, he comes in 5th on this list and will be staying put.
4. Brennan Boesch
Boesch has trade market value as well. However, like Avila, he might have more utility to the Tigers, and therefore he comes in at number 4. Given the lack of quality depth in the Tigers outfield, the Tigers are more than likely going to keep him. Boesch improved across the board from last year, and before his injury was one of the Tigers most solid performers. Other teams would love to get their hands on him though because he is headed into his prime at 26 years old, under team control through 2015, and player that appears to be getting better.
3. Max Scherzer
Scherzer is easy to move in a trade because he is a solid starting pitcher, and there is potential for more with his stuff. This is also an area of relative depth for the Tigers team, and they might be willing to part with a starter, given that he could bring multiple players back in a deal. Scherzer is just 27 years old, doesn’t have a ton of innings on his arm, and won’t be eligible for free agency until 2015.
2. Ryan Raburn
I’m sure there are those that see his name and think…please! Some Tigers fans distaste aside, Ryan Raburn does have value on the market, and the Tigers could afford to trade him, making him a prime candidate for this list. Raburn is in his prime right now at 30 years old. He is also cheap, and not eligible for free agency til 2014. He also provides a guy that can play multiple positions, and be a right handed power bat off the bench, or starting against lefties. He is also a 2nd half monster. His utility, salary, and niche bat could make him a wanted commodity.
1. Rick Porcello
Porcello has all the qualities you look for in an easy to trade player in my opinion. Youth is on his side. Salary isn’t an issue. He doesn’t hit free agency til 2016, so he is under control for a while. There is also just enough performance to intrigue most clubs. His combination of age, performance, salary, could bring back multiple players in a deal. So, one would wonder why they would deal Porcello. Again, starting pitching has a little depth in the Tigers system, and some thing Porcello is as good as he is going to get now. If that is the case, the Tigers could be maximizing his value by dealing him now while he still has all of those positive trade qualities on his side. In two years, it may not be the same. Also not mentioned is the fact that Porcello, Scherzer, and Doug Fister will all be getting arbitration increases, and with big salaries devoted to Verlander and Cabrera, the Tigers won’t be able to keep all these guys. They just might make this decision now.
*I also wanted to note that Doug Fister is of course tradeable, but I felt of the starting pitchers, his age, and more importantly his performance means the Tigers keep him. He is the 2nd best pitcher on the team.
*I also wanted to note that Austin Jackson didn’t make this list because his performance means his value has taken a hit. His likely return would make him less likely to be dealt.