NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.
It is no secret that the Detroit Tigers have been one of the more disappointing teams this season in baseball. Sitting with a record of 44-44, 9 games out of first in the AL Central and 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card, the Tigers may be better suited to be sellers this season.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski continues to make the assertion that the Tigers are still trying to win this season, but they have a wait and see approach about what will be done at the trade deadline.
“Some clubs are going to get hot,” Dombrowski said. “It happens every year. But the reality is, between now and July 31 – I don’t know how many games we have. Let’s say (after) the All-Star break, we’ve got 10, 11 games. Well, if you win 10 or 11 games or you lose 10 or 11 games, well that can change the way you are a great deal.”
The Tigers have slightly a few more games than Dombrowski thought between the All-Star break and the trade deadline. The Tigers will play 14 games in that time frame and what they do in the two weeks will determine their fate for the rest of the season. For the Tigers to get back into the thick of the races, they will need to win at least 10 of the 14 games. Not an impossible task for a team that still boasts boat loads of talent, but not an easy task for a team struggling to keep their heads above water. While the American League remains wide open, only one team with 50 wins, the Tigers need to look at what selling this season could mean for the club in the future.
Ask any Tigers fan what the weakest part of the Tigers organization is and many of them would say a bullpen. While that is true, the real weakness lies in the farm system. A lack of top prospects, none in the current top 100, has not hurt the team’s ability to make a trade in the past, but it has hurt them with their play on the field in the present. The Tigers are without suitable replacements for injuries as we have seen with injuries to Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander this season. Weakness in the minors has also lead to a much weakened bullpen this season. With many veterans under-performing, the young players in AAA were given a chance. They too failed, and the Tigers were left with questions on what to do about a glaring weakness.
The Tigers have a couple of big name players that will be free agents at seasons end. David Price and Yoenis Cespedes are the two biggest names that would be likely to move from the Tigers. Those two names alone could stock the Tigers AAA team with top prospects that would help to strengthen the farm system considerably. While the Tigers will get a compensation pick for Price if they keep him and offer a qualifying offer at the end of the season, contract restrictions take that option away with Cespedes. Therefore, I see Cespedes as being the first to move if the Tigers go into sell mode.
We all know that the Tigers aren’t afraid to spend big money on free agents. With a fairly strong class this off-season, the Tigers could part with at least two big names at the trade deadline and still spend during the winter to become instant contenders in 2016.
Going into 2016, the Tigers will still have a young core consisting of Jose Iglesias, J.D. Martinez, Anthony Gose, and Nick Castellanos. Pair that with Cabrera and Victor Martinez, and you already have a lineup capable of producing runs. Dombrowski is one of the best at his jobs, and was able to bring this team out of the dark ages. He has the ability to do some minor tweaking this season and during the winter that will make this team a powerhouse once again.
Another way to look at it is like this. The Tigers are without their best player for at least five more weeks, their former ace is a shell of his old self, and the bullpen makes even the hardiest of fans cower in fear every time they enter the game. It is time for the team to sell this summer, and then spend to win in 2016.