If Detroit Tigers Aim To Rebuild, Trading J.D. Martinez Is Key
Of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball, 28 wish they had signed J.D. Martinez, one regrets letting him leave, and one is the Detroit Tigers.
Unfortunately, however, the Tigers’ good fortune in landing Martinez did not intertwine with the apex of their success.
Now at 44-43, underachieving, and heading towards the All-Star break, Detroit must decide if they have a realistic opportunity to chase a ring once more, or if their championship window is finally closed.
Based on past experience, the former seems to be the more likely reality.
However, if Dave Dombrowski, in the final year of his current deal, decides that it is time to hit refresh and rebuild his aging core, there can be no half measures.
This is in large part due to the low value of the players he has at his disposable.
First there is David Price; the crown jewel in Dombrowski’s haul. The left-handed ace is a phenomenal pitcher, who is having another phenomenal season. He is 9-2 with a 2.38 ERA and the Tigers are 15-3 in games that he starts. Yet, if it is a rebuild that the Detroit faithful are hoping for, even Price would not be enough.
In 2014, when the Tigers traded for Price, Tampa Bay acquired Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin (from the Mariners), and Willy Adames. Smyly, while obviously talented, was a pitcher with a 6-9 record and 3.93 ERA at the time of the deal, Franklin is a career .203 hitter, and Adames, despite a bright future, is far from the Major League level as of now.
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That was a for a year and a half of Price. Now, the Tigers can only dangle half a season of Price, and must expect far less than what they gave up.
Beyond Price, the Tigers are likely to offer teams half a season of Yoenis Cespedes, the ever-plummeting stat-line of Alfredo Simon, or the slow but steady regression of Joakim Soria, if they do sell.
The returns on those deals will likely not bridge the gap to another championship window.
Unless, of course, Detroit is willing to go the whole nine yards and dangle Martinez in trade talks.
The Detroit faithful may be more than reluctant to deal Martinez but shipping him off may be their best chance to stave off a Phillies-esque demise.
The Tigers do not have Cole Hamels, who Philadelphia aims to spin for prospects that can help them back to relevancy, but in Martinez, they have a 27 year-old who can be a perennial All-Star playing on one of the best deals in baseball this year, and who is under team control, through his arbitration years, until 2018.
Unless you are the Houston Astros, it is rare for a player of that caliber to walk out the door, so for the Tigers to put him on the market would have any number of teams chomping at the bit.
In all likelihood, Detroit will double down on repeated negligence of their future in order to try and win a ring. If they should, however, decide to sell, Martinez should be available to the highest bidder.