Scott Harris, Detroit Tigers must sell at the MLB Trade Deadline

With the MLB Trade Deadline approaching, our Baseball guy, A.J. Reilly, explains why the Detroit Tigers need to be sellers.

The Detroit Tigers and President of Baseball Operations, Scott Harris, find themselves at what Bone Thugs-N-Harmony would describe as a Crossroads. The MLB Trade Deadline is two weeks away and the Tigers sit ten games under .500 (42-52), and 6 games out of first place in the American League Central with 68 games left to play. Harris has even gone as far as to say that if the boys caught fire their plans for the deadline might change. Since then the Tigers are 3-2 in their first five games and have made no ground in the standings.

See you at the crossroads, crossroads, crossroads

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Crossroads

Here's the bottom line: the Detroit Tigers have to sell at the deadline, it's a no-brainer.

Fan exhaustion isn't reason enough to miss an opportunity

We hosted a Tigers mailbag the other day on Facebook and one of the more consistent arguments was, “We need to buy, we're so close.” This is a paraphrase of course, but the sentiment is genuine. Fans are tired of losing. And, when you haven't made the playoffs since 2014 the exhaustion is palatable, especially when your owner declared the rebuild “100% over” before a failed season in 2022. That failed season led to the firing of Al Avila and a search for a new head honcho.

To his credit, Harris refused to use the “r” word during his introductory presser. He also spoke of taking calculated risks to produce a good product for the fans. Now, these tired fans see a team that is only five games out of first place and feel that now is the time to push forward. Quite clearly it is not that time.

This roster is still a massive mess thanks to Al Avila. Harris has created depth within the organization and this 2023 is clearly overachieving expectations heading into the season, however, they still aren't a contender. They are what we would call a “pretender.”

The appeal of winning the Central is strong, make no bones about it. But winning the central this year is like winning first prize in the “Cutest Pig” contest at the County Fair; it's nice but mostly meaningless. The shine of the AL Central crown cannot distract from what this team actually is right now.

Now, we can definitely play the, “You just have to get in and anything can happen,” card and that's true. Anything can happen in the playoffs, but the numbers are not in the Tigers' favor. They currently are a -81 run differential on the season and are 20-36 this season against teams that are .500 or better. And maybe you don't care about a swift first-round exit but maybe we should if it costs us an opportunity to make our roster better?

Eduardo Rodriguez Detroit Tigers Garrett Hill

Selling at the deadline doesn't mean the end

It's a tale as old as time, the Tigers have movable assets and should move them when the deadline comes. But this isn't a fire sale, this isn't a “sell everything” type of sale. But, for Scott Harris, there are two pieces that absolutely must be sold and should garner a return. At a minimum, Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Lorenzen should be both getting called about and sold to the highest (and best) bidder.

There's really one simple explanation for both of these names, though there will definitely be more names tossed around within the realms of these discussions over the next few weeks. That explanation is simply this: neither of them will be here next season. Whether you truly believe ERod's comments yesterday or not — he will opt out at the end of this season. Lorenzen is on a one-year deal and was presumably signed for this exact reason, to flip at the deadline.

Not moving these two players and letting them walk at the end of the season, getting nothing for their departure, is Avila-style negligence. It stings to hear as fans, but reality is reality. And, for all the “we'll see what happens after the All-Star break…” talk that Harris has said, he knows what he has and what he doesn't have.

Rodriguez will be worth a nice return for a club looking for one of the best starters on the open market. Lorenzen will garner less as a back-end of the rotation or bullpen piece but still will be worth something. Just moving these two pieces can help Scott Harris continue constructing this roster in his image. And, let's not forget the best part: in 2024, the only player that will be “under contract” is Javier Baez, with everyone else either in arbitration or pre-arbitration. This means getting usable prospects now, paired with the three closest in the Minor Leagues – Justin-Henry Malloy, Parker Meadows, and Colt Keith -and you're looking at a youth movement in Detroit.

The Bottom Line

If done correctly, which doesn't rule out other extra-curricular moves at the deadline, the moves made by Scott Harris at this deadline are the most important moves he's made thus far. His job truly begins right now because this is how you change the course, roster, and narrative surrounding the Detroit Tigers. It's going to be an exciting two weeks, starting preparing your goodbyes now.