Detroit also doesn’t have to do anything. They have all of their really high-profile prospects protected, and they still have a spot available to make a selection – like they did last year with Reyes.
Looking at the eligible players Detroit would be leaving exposed, there is reason to expect that none of them will get taken.
Azocar was left unprotected after last season, and was not selected. While he had a better season in 2018, he still has not shown enough power (two home runs) or plate discipline to be anything more than a speedy fourth outfielder. With no experience above High-A, Detroit can feel fairly confident that Azocar won’t be selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
Alexander is the one I would worry about the most. Teams love to claim pitchers they can shove in the bullpen, and left-handers are a very popular target (a la Daniel Stumpf). Alexander was a second round pick back in 2015. He went 6-8 with a 4.44 ERA between Erie and Toledo this season. His command is excellent but his limited strikeout numbers will likely scare teams off. I don’t think he’ll get selected, but he would be my top choice to protect if Detroit clears a spot. They have a lot of pitching prospects, but very few left-handers.
Hill can already be chalked up as a bust after being selected in the first round back in 2015. He finally played in over 100 games last season, but his just .239 with only 16 extra base hits and 109 strikeouts. He has blazing speed, but at this point doesn’t look like more than a speedy fourth outfielder. He’s not ready for the big leagues, and likely wouldn’t be selected despite his pedigree as a first rounder.
Cam Gibson had a decent season last year, with eight home runs, 22 stolen bases and excellent plate discipline. However, he’s 24 and has only played 48 games above High-A. I doubt he gets claimed.
Paul Voelker had a nice 3.18 ERA at Double-A last year, making him a potential target for Rule 5 teams. He is 26 and unlikely to be more than a middle reliever, but a team could certainly take a chance on him after a strong 2018 season.
Grayson Long is a longshot after missing all of 2018 with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, but he is one of Detroit’s more appealing pitching prospects as well.
The Detroit Tigers have a lot of options to consider before tonight’s 40-man roster deadline. Alexander and Voelker seem like possible draftees, so finding a spot for them could be a priority for this team, at the expense of some of their current players.