4 Tigers players (and prospects) who should be off limits in trade deadline talks

Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

The Tigers are already expected to make some changes at the trade deadline, and while it seems like they're still trying to figure out how big a role they're going to play, with new rumors that say even Tarik Skubal could be on the chopping block, it doesn't feel like anyone is really safe at this point.

At this point, the best strategy for the Tigers is to make sure they do nothing that will hurt their longer-term picture, such as including any key prospects in order to get rid of Javy Baez's contract or any of the stars of today's team like Skubal. If any of these four names are floated in potential trade talks, that should signal a complete nonstarter for Detroit.

The Tigers should keep these players on the no-trade list

Tarik Skubal

The fact that there have been whisperings about the Tigers being open to trading Skubal is enough to have fans wanting to bang their heads against a wall. Jim Bowden of The Athletic reported that "teams like the Orioles and Dodgers" could be contenders in a chase for Detroit's ace, and while he did say that any offer would have to blow the Tigers' minds, both of those teams have the means and the gall to throw a heap of prospects their way.

Even if it's already looking like he won't be, Skubal should be untouchable at the deadline. The Tigers have their first bonafide ace in years, a pitcher who has a very good shot at the AL Cy Young even if his team can't eke out a winning season. Not only is this a player both Tigers hitters and their fans can rally behind, but should be a potential target for them to build around instead of uproot.

Skubal has the third best ERA in the American League and fifth best in baseball. He has the fourth-highest fWAR of AL pitchers, the second lowest WHIP, and fifth lowest batting average against. He's allowed fewer walks than anyone else he's competing with in those categories, with only 1.76 BB/9 across almost 100 innings. The Tigers have been disappointing but are by no means tanking, nor do they have a terrible farm system, so there's no reason why they should be shopping him instead of stopping trade talks for him in their tracks.

Jackson Jobe

Jobe, the Tigers' No. 1 prospect as of March this year, went down with a hamstring strain on May 2, interrupting what was supposed to be a tear through Double-A this season. He's currently rehabbing in High-A, and he displayed an almost immediate return to form in his most recent outing on Sunday, pitching three perfect innings in a game the Whitecaps went on to win.

The Tigers have aggressive plans for him, which include seeing him pitch 100 innings this season despite his monthlong absence. He'll have to work a little bit overtime when he does get back to Double-A, but the way he looked over his 16 2/3 innings before getting hurt and his quick bounce back from injury suggest that he'll have no issue with continuing to mow hitters down when he gets back to it.

If the Tigers are going to trade Skubal, then Jobe should be absolutely off-limits. They'll probably be looking for some immediate help for the lineup (and probably some for the bullpen as well) in any of their trades at the deadline, but they could net bats through a trade for Jack Flaherty. No need to add Jobe into any mix unless the target is quite literally one of the best hitters in baseball (who the Tigers probably wouldn't go after anyway, because they're loathe to actually acquire stars).

Riley Greene

Although it's looking like Greene is going to have to wait at least another year for his first All-Star appearance, he's in the middle of an All-Star caliber season. Not only is he leading the Tigers in almost every hitting metric imaginable, he's also leading AL left fielders and is in the top five of all AL outfielders by most metrics.

He's also the only highly-touted young Tiger who actually looks like he'll be able to go the distance. Five men — Greene, Spencer Torkelson, Kerry Carpenter, Colt Keith, and Parker Meadows — entered the season with the hope of an entire franchise riding on them, and only Greene has been able to carry it well. Torkelson and Meadows are back in Triple-A, Carpenter is hurt, and Keith has be dealing with a lot of growing pains that have a lot of fans impatient with him.

Like Skubal, Greene should be a player the Tigers build around. With the way things are trending for him this season, it looks like an extension should be considered much sooner than a trade. If the biggest target for the deadline are bats, then it wouldn't make any sense for the Tigers to trade the only one they currently have, but it feels important to reiterate that Greene should not be headed anywhere anytime soon, trade deadline and beyond.

Jace Jung

If the Tigers were going to push all their chips in for a specific player, then Jung might be the top prospect they throw in to really get a trade off the ground. He's also been down with injury since June 7, but he was hitting well in Triple-A before he got hurt and could be major league ready if he can bounce back well and get to 100 games on the season.

But the problem with bats arises once again when we're considering Jung, whose hit and power grades (50 and 60) are what make him such an exciting prospect to watch come up. He has 18 doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs with the Mud Hens this season, on top of a 129 wRC+ (154 last season). If the Tigers value their homegrown players as much as they say they do, then letting go of Jung when it feels like he could be on the verge of a call up early next season would directly contradict everything they've been trying to sell to fans this year.

The Tigers have a couple of top prospects currently in the majors — Justyn-Henry Malloy and Wenceel Pérez — and a wealth of MLB-ready prospects with him in Triple-A. Detroit could entertain offers on any of them, but Jobe shouldn't come into the equation.