By Tom Millikan
I’ve been sitting on this for a few weeks when it became 100 percent crystal clear in my gut that the Tigers should blow this thing up. But I gave the Tigers the benefit of the doubt hoping this veteran crew could make one last run. The eye test said this team is done. However, history said this season is too young, noting the 2012 Tigers started 26-32.
History, smistory! It’s over. The Tigers missed their window. They are old and falling apart before our eyes. It’s time to sell everybody! It’s time to do an Astros rebuild where you sell off everything and do a total rebuild.
The parts that are easy to sell before July 31 are JD Martinez and Ian Kinsler. The parts you can likely move before July 31 are Justin Wilson, Jose Iglesias, Alex Avila and Justin Verlander. Yes, Verlander! You’re telling me a contender won’t take him if they’re desperate to win? Perhaps a team like the Astros, who need pitching, would be willing to take on JV’s contract.
By August 1, the Tigers will have sent MLB a message they’re in rebuild mode. But let’s take this a step further. When I mean rebuild, I mean total rebuild. This thing needs to be completely cleansed and unfortunately, the Tigers need to sell off players who can help win over the next few years. Why? Because they need to clean up the financial books before they can move forward.
This franchise is saddled by contracts like Miguel Cabrera and Jordan Zimmermann. They’ll never be able to compete in the AL Central until they move these contracts. The only way you’re going to get a team to take on the bad contracts is to include a proven stud in the deal that has a friendly contract.
Unfortunately, that person is Michael Fulmer.
The Tigers need to get the word out before the Winter Meetings that Michael Fulmer is available if you take on the contracts of Miguel Cabrera and Jordan Zimmermann. The deal would be similar to the big trade the Dodgers and Red Sox made in 2012, where the Red Sox unloaded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett. The Red Sox future was crippled financially, they realized it, and they flipped their roster into a 2013 World Series. It wouldn’t happen that fast for the Tigers because they don’t have the farm system the Red Sox had at that time. But it would be a first step to toward creating a real future.
The Tigers would be doing their due diligence to move Nicholas Castellanos as well. The more prospects you get the better because you’re not winning for years. Hopefully Justin Upton would opt out of his contract seeing the Tigers situation and believing he can get a better contract. That’s unrealistic, but possible.
Anibal Sanchez and Francisco Rodriguez come off the books after 2017. Victor Martinez’s contract expires after 2018. Maybe they could get something for V-Mart if they eat most of the contract, but that’s probably wishful thinking.
Regardless, making all of these moves would make the Tigers farm system deeper — and it would give the team a bottom five MLB payroll. They’d be in a situation similar to the 2013 Astros who had a $26 million payroll. In 2014, Sports Illustrated put on their cover that 2017 Astros would win the World Series because their future was bright and they were committed to analytics. For all the jinxes SI supposedly hands out, it looks like they nailed this one.
It’s a copycat league. The Tigers need to take note, swallow the bitter pill that it’s over, and move on before it really is too late.