Tigers Rumors: Detroit in ‘listening mode’ on current ace?

San Francisco Giants v Detroit Tigers
San Francisco Giants v Detroit Tigers / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

Whether or not you love the additions the Detroit Tigers have made this offseason, fans can't say it hasn't been a busy one for the team. Penning deals with Kenta Maeda, Jack Flaherty, Andrew Chafin, and Shelby Miller has made the Tigers one of the most active organizations on the free agent market so far. They've rounded out a rotation that will also see the return of Casey Mize and a bullpen that was — and perhaps still is, to a lesser extent — in real need of a few more arms.

The Tigers have been quieter on trades. Scott Harris has made his affinity for Detroit's young hitters abundantly clear; the likes of Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene could fetch a nice return, individually or packaged, but Harris is in "develop, not buy" mode. His stance on the homegrown arms in the rotation is less clear, but they do have an ace up their sleeve that could bring in a few more players without breaking the bank.

Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Tigers are in "listening mode" on Tarik Skubal, whose excellent 2023 season made a very good argument for him as a trade piece for Detroit.

Tigers Rumors: Detroit in ‘listening mode’ on current ace?

As things stand, Skubal could be the Tigers' Opening Day starter. He only pitched 80 1/3 innings in 2023 after coming off an injury that kept him out until July, but he had a standout year with a 2.80 ERA and 0.90 WHIP, giving fans a lot of reasons to be excited about him atop a Tigers rotation that will see Mize innings-limited after Tommy John, Kenta Maeda still effective but aging, and Jack Flaherty a wild card given his recent struggles.

"Listening mode" doesn't necessarily have to mean anything. The Tigers aren't actively shopping Skubal, but they're also open to seeing what kind of return they could get. A potential Skubal/Matt Vierling, or even Skubal/Zack McKinstry trade could see the Tigers get another starting arm and/or a starting infielder to clear up confusions at second and third, but it would mean giving up a player who both the fans and organization are excited to see start for Detroit this upcoming season.

With all of Harris' talk about retaining and developing young talent, one would hope that they don't give up Skubal and let him win for another team, especially when the Tigers clearly believe they could make a run for the division. If they do let him go, the return had better be good.

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