DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers are certainly a team to watch at this year’s strange trade deadline.
While teams aren’t likely to pay high prices to get players for 25 games, the Tigers do have a couple of attractive rental pieces, as well as players who could help other teams beyond 2020.
Tigers prospect breakdowns:
At the same time, the Tigers are trying to pull out of their rebuild and get back into playoff contention next year, so some players on the current roster will be unavailable over the next five days.
Here’s a look at all the trade pieces Al Avila has to work with, along with the players who won’t be going anywhere.
Taking all factors into consideration, Cisnero might be the team’s most valuable trade chip this weekend. He owns a 1.65 ERA, a 2.18 FIP and a 0.918 WHIP through a team-leading 15 appearances. He’s struck out 17 batters compared to just five walks in 16.1 innings while inducing swinging strikes on 15% of his offerings.
Cisnero has made 12 scoreless appearances, including three of five or six outs. He’s allowed one run three times, and never more. Even though he’s 31 years old, he’s under team control for three seasons after 2020, so his value goes well beyond a rental.
It would take a team that really believes in the underlying strikeout numbers for the Tigers to trade Boyd, but it’s possible. He has a 13% swinging strike rate and 33 whiffs in 28.2 innings after striking out 238 batters last season.
The problem is Boyd also leads the league in hits, homers and earned runs allowed. That’s a damaging resume for someone who already needed to disprove years of average production prior to last year’s first half.
Boyd is under team control for a low price through the 2022 season.
Whether he’s an opener or a long reliever, Norris is proving once again that he still has value. After finishing 2019 with nine dominant three-inning outings, Norris has allowed just 10 hits, three walks and four runs in 13 innings out of the bullpen this season.
Norris quietly finished 2019 with a 2.9 WAR and is on that same pace this year. He’s got one more year of team control after 2020, so don’t be surprised if he garners some interest.
With Cisnero and others lighting up the radar guns, Farmer has been somewhat of a forgotten commodity in the Tigers’ bullpen. But he struck out 73 batters in 67.2 innings last season with a 3.72 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, so he’s got some value.
This season, Farmer owns a 2.89 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. He’s only struck out five batters in 9.1 innings, but eight of his 10 outings have been scoreless innings. Farmer throws strikes and induces nearly twice as many ground balls as fly balls, which is valuable out of the bullpen, especially in a home run-heavy era.
Farmer is under team control for two more seasons after 2020.
Schoop is a free agent this offseason, so his value is extremely limited in a shortened season. But he’s slashing .289/.319/.514 with seven home runs and three doubles in 27 games. He plays every day and is solid defensively at second base, so Schoop could be flipped for a prospect before Monday.
The Tigers might want to keep Romine around to work with the young pitchers, but if a team is looking for some catching help, he’s a good option. In 20 games, he’s hit two home runs and three doubles while posting a .268 average. His defense is solid and he’s got some pop at the plate -- that’s his appeal.
Jones is the most unlikely of this list to be traded because the Tigers probably see him as the starting center fielder for the next few seasons. He’s 28 years old and won’t become a free agent until after the 2023 season.
The Tigers have seen Jones steadily improve at the plate each year since 2017. Last season, he had an elite stretch in which he drew more walks and hit for consistent power after changing his batting stance. That has carried over into this season with an .864 OPS and 13 extra-base hits in 27 games.
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Jones has struggled to stay healthy in his young career and still strikes out too often. But he’s got great speed and plays strong defense in center field. With his improving offensive skills, some teams might be interested.
First of all, it’s obvious no player in the entire organization is technically untouchable. The Tigers would trade anyone for the right price.
These are the players the Tigers likely wouldn’t trade because they want to build around them for the future and they wouldn’t get equal value in return.
Not much needs to be said here. He’s a former No. 1 overall pick and the team’s top pitching prospect. The first two MLB starts weren’t dominant, but Mize showed positive signs and the team plans for him to be an ace in the near future.
Like Mize, there’s just no realistic scenario in which the Tigers move a top 50 prospect two starts into his MLB career. Skubal is an elite strikeout pitcher who can ramp up to the upper 90s with his fastball. He should be in this rotation for a long time.
This might be a bit controversial, but I don’t think the Tigers would move Turnbull. He’s the best pitcher in the starting rotation and could stay in the mix even as the team’s top prospects get promoted.
Avila could definitely get something valuable in exchange for Turnbull, who has four more seasons of team control remaining after 2020. But they really like his talent and probably wouldn’t move him unless someone really wanted to overpay.
Another extremely valuable trade piece, Soto is dominating hitters with his 99 mph fastball and wicked slider. He’s struck out 19 -- exactly one-third of the batters he’s faced -- while allowing just eight hits and four walks in 14.1 innings.
If you take out Soto’s one bad outing -- when he allowed all four batters he faced to reach, and they all scored -- he’s allowed just two runs in 14.1 innings. Of his 15 appearances, 13 have been scoreless.
By throwing strikes and getting ahead in counts, Soto has established himself as the Tigers’ best reliever. He’s under team control for five more years after 2020, so he’s not going anywhere.
Everyone was most excited to see Mize and Skubal make their debuts last week, but Paredes has been the most successful of the three prospects so far.
Before we even dive into the numbers, Paredes’ advanced approach at the plate is already obvious. He’s got the best eye on the roster despite being just 21 years old, taking close pitches and battling in two-strike counts. It’s a breath of fresh air for a lineup that regularly swings at pitches well out of the zone and consistently wastes at-bats.
Paredes has already drawn four walks and collected seven hits in his first 26 plate appearances, good for a .318/.423/.500 slash line. His first career home run was a grand slam that helped the Tigers end their 20-game losing streak to the Cleveland Indians.
It’s not a long shot to say Paredes might already be the best hitter in the Tigers’ lineup, and he just broke into the majors. His name won’t come up in any trade discussions.
It’s frustrating to see the Tigers only give partial playing time to Castro, because he deserves a chance to show what he can do in an everyday role. He’s already hit two home runs in 32 at-bats with a .281 average. All he did in the minors was hit.
Castro is a top 10 prospect in the Tigers’ organization and one of the few offensive building blocks to already get the call to the big leagues. He won’t be moved at the deadline.
The Tigers have so many other relievers in this discussion that Garcia gets lost in the shuffle, but he was the most highly rated prospect of the bunch. Ron Gardenhire isn’t using him in many high-leverage situations, but he’s starting to earn more trust.
In 11.1 innings this season, Garcia has allowed 10 hits, four walks and three earned runs. His strikeout total is strangely low for someone who 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors, but that’s the kind of stat that can be skewed in a shortened season.
Teams probably wouldn’t ask about Garcia, and the Tigers will gladly hold onto him.
The rest of the players on the Tigers’ roster fall into four possible categories: role players, players who’ve lost value because of rough seasons, question marks and Miguel Cabrera.
Nobody is going to trade for Cabrera’s contract, especially since he hasn’t even been close to an average offensive player this season. Jordan Zimmermann would also fall into this category if he was healthy.
Some players might have had some trade value if they were having strong seasons, and they might regain value in the future. The Tigers would be wise to hold onto them instead of trading them at their lowest cost. This group includes Michael Fulmer, Joe Jimenez, Niko Goodrum and Cameron Maybin.
The question marks are Jeimer Candelario, Victor Reyes and Rony Garcia. Maybe they’ll be part of the Tigers’ resurgence over the next couple of years, but they need to prove it. The chance that they become decent contributors outweighs their modest trade value.
The rest of the roster -- Tyler Alexander, Kyle Funkhouser, John Schreiber, Grayson Greiner, Jorge Bonifacio and Christin Stewart -- is made up of role players. Most teams have their own versions of these guys, so they wouldn’t typically come up in trade discussions.