Detroit Tigers: Future Fire Sale in the Off-Season?
If it seems like the Detroit Tigers are a bit off their games right now, it is only to be expected. The Trade Deadline gets everyone’s panties in a wad…even the star players.
This time of the year can be especially troublesome. No one knows who will be playing together when August 1 rolls around and players get a bit punchy.
Even baseball writers can go to extremes.
Take the latest prediction from The Detroit News stalwart, Lynn Henning. In his latest piece from early July 25, he makes the bold prediction that the Tigers will be having a massive fire sale. Not at the Trade Deadline, but during the off-season.
His prediction, in his words: “Prepare to see, more likely this November and December, any of the following names relocate: Justin Verlander. J.D. Martinez. Francisco Rodriguez. Ian Kinsler. Justin Upton. Not to mention Victor Martinez, who, because of his contract and age is more likely to interest a team next July if his body and hitting skills can stay aligned for another year.”
While he does not believe that many of the contracts will be traded easily, his strongly worded opinion is that the Tigers will no longer have a $200-million-plus payroll after this season.
Is Henning right in his opinion? How far out are his ideas?
It is true there are aging players on the current Detroit Tigers roster, but many of those players will be next to impossible to move. The Tigers cannot continue to get stuck with Prince-Fielder-esque deals where they pay men NOT to play for Detroit. But, there are players who have contracts that are so large, that very few teams who would even take a look. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Anibal Sanchez are not getting any younger, which could make dealing them away difficult.
Henning even thinks that there is a chance the Justin Verlander could be asked to leave. What Henning does not discuss is the fact that Tigers fans come to Comerica Park to watch players like Cabrera and Verlander. As a fan who attends games (and drives over 300 miles round trip to do so), I pay more for tickets to watch Verlander pitch than I pay for tickets when Sanchez or Mike Pelfrey are pitching. He is an institution in Detroit. The same goes for Miggy. Fans pay to see them play. They will not pay the MLB prices to watch MiLB players.
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There are some contracts that could be easy for Al Avila to move in the offseason, but fans will not be happy about those. They include fan favorites like Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, and Francisco Rodriguez. These men haven’t been Tigers as long as Cabrera and Verlander have, but they have endeared themselves to fan base. Their contracts are reasonable and their abilities are high-end, so Henning proposes trading them for prospects and young players. If Henning has some insider information, fans should start preparing themselves for this possibility.
It can be easy to get attached to favorite players, especially when they deliver on a regular basis. Pondering the ideas that favorite players could be gone soon, makes it easy to understand why so many baseball players get edgy when the trade deadline approaches. Change is never easy to handle – even from a fan’s perspective.
Next: Trade Deadline Will Lack Excitement
While I understand that baseball is a business, the fans are the ones buying the tickets, the concessions, and the merchandise. No one wants to get to a point where the seats at Comerica Park are empty because the team is full of jerseys with unrecognizable names. I can’t see Henning’s prediction coming true. Think about this: the Tigers can’t even figure out what to do with Bruce Rondon.