How close are the Tigers to contending again?
Detroit Tigers fans have suffered through an absolutely miserable 2017 season. The Tigers have begun a rebuild, as they have traded away many of their star players.
Detroit Tigers general manger Al Avila has made it quite clear that the team is in a rebuilding mode with the recent trades of Justin Verlander to the Astros and Justin Upton to the Angels.
In the past year, the Tigers have traded away Verlander, Upton, J.D. Martinez, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila, and Cameron Maybin, all who have been key contributers in recent seasons for the Tigers.
With the recent trades, the Tigers are left with a roster that has been gutted of many of its key contributers, and is now calling on some of its younger players to take on bigger roles.
It’s no question that the Tigers are doomed for some bad baseball down the road, but the big question, is how long will the rebuilding process last?
Many of the Tiger’s top prospects are still in the lower levels of the minor leagues, and most likely, still a few years from seeing the bigs.
But the Tigers do have some up and coming talent sitting in the higher levels of the minors, most of which are in position to begin 2018 with Triple-A Toledo.
A trio of starters
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For example, Franklin Perez, the centerpiece in the trade that sent Tiger’s ace Justin Verlander to Houston, currently sits in Double-A right now, and is poised to start 2018 in Triple-A.
Another pitching prospect the Tigers have acquired via trade, Grayson Long, currently sits in Double-A Erie as well, and is also posting excellent numbers. Long has posted an earned run average of 3.01 over 27 starts this season in the minors.
Alex Faedo is another bright spot in the Tigers organization.
Faedo, a 21-year-old out of the University of Florida, was taken in the first round of the 2017 draft this year by Detroit.
Most college arms in their twenties tend to move through the minors fairly quickly. Don’t be shocked to see Faedo in a Tigers uniform come 2019.
The Tigers do have some help coming soon in their outfield.
Outfielder Christin Stewart, who has slugged 28 home runs thus far for Double-A Erie, is also another bright spot in the Tiger’s farm system.
Mike Gerber has posted a .304/.373/.496 slash line this season in all three levels of the minors, along with reaching double digits in home runs and stolen bases. Gerber could see some big league action as early as 2018.
Currently in the Majors
The Tigers do have a plethora of young talent already on their Major League roster as well.
For example, Jeimer Candelario, the prized prospect coming our way in the trade that sent Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs.
Candelario is poised to be a middle of the order hitter that can hit from both sides of the plate. The infielder has 20+ home run potential with the excellent plate vision and discipline. Expect Candelario to anchor down one of the corner infield spots in Detroit for years to come.
Other bright spots have surfaced on this team this year as well, such as Mikie Mahtook, who has been a solid offensive contributor this season and showed his ability to play all three outfield spots.
Greene, Hicks and Machado
Shane Greene, who has taken over the closer role since the departure of Justin Wilson, and done quite well, converting all six of his save opportunities since taking over the ninth inning.
John Hicks has looked like he could be the successor for Victor Martinez at the designated hitter’s spot, hitting .313/.372/.537 with power this season despite being called up and down from the minors.
Finally, Dixon Machado, who has hit .291/.333/.354 off the bench and played three infield positions very well and looks to be an option taking over second base in 2018, should Ian Kinsler depart.
All have been solid producers for the Tigers, all being under 30 years old.
Next: Tigers could conceivably spend more in free agency as a rebuilding team. Here's why
In short, rebuilds can often be long and exhausting. Be patient. Relieze that it will probably get worse before it gets better. If I were to guess, the Tigers are a few years from being World Series contenders again.