It is never too early to start talking about the trade deadline, especially when we can talk about would-be contenders that might unexpectedly end up being sellers rather than buyers at the deadline. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at many of these such teams, and there is a surprisingly large amount, and what exactly they might be looking to sell if they don’t turn around their season in a hurry.
The Detroit Tigers were supposed to cruise to the AL Central title this year with many experts predicting 100+ wins for the team since they were so clearly the class of a weak division. As of right now, the Tigers are now “the class” of the division resides in third place and four games under .500
So, what can the Tigers potentially offer to the rest of the league?
Big Chips: Jose Valverde
Coming off a 2011 campaign in which he was perfect on all his save opportunities, Jose Valverde has been something of a disappointment this year with a 4.66 ERA. Still, he has a strong track record of being a proverbial “capital C” closer. Given that about half the teams in the league have had to replace their closer for one reason or another, that could make Valverde a hot commodity, even if he isn’t usually lumped in as one of the elite closers in the game. The fact that he is a rental will bring his price tage down a bit, but teams have been known to pay premium prices, making Valverde their best trade asset if they want to infuse this team with some young talent.
Money Moves: Octavio Dotel
The Tigers could keep Dotel with a club option for 2013, but getting traded at the deadline is sort Octavio’s thing, so one has to assume he’ll be made available to keep the annual tradition alive. There should be no shortage of teams who wouldn’t mind sacrificing a middling prospect or two and maybe some cash to get their hands on the well-traveled setup man and allow the Tigers to clear a modest amount of payroll budget for the off-season.
Solid Pieces: Delmon Young
It might be a stretch to call Delmon Young a “solid piece” since he is a poor fielder who is allergic to taking pitches but not to getting drunk and making offensive statements about certain minorities. But with Young headed for free agency and off to a poor start, the Tigers will be lucky to get half of what they paid for him when the acquired him from the Twins at last year’s trade deadline.
X-Factor: Max Scherzer
Last season, Max Scherzer was a big factor in the Tigers playoff run, but this season, he is a big factor in their disappointing first two months. Scherzer has the potential to be a frontline starter, but he has proved to be maddeningly inconsistent. At some point, the Tigers might decide they just aren’t going to be able to figure him out and will decide to cash out on him before he starts getting too expensive in arbitration and/or loses all trade value. With a 5.67 ERA, Scherzer doesn’t look like a great trade target, but surely some risk-loving team will see his insane 12.0 K/9 rate and roll the dice on acquiring him in hopes that they can rein him in. Even with Scherzer’s struggles, it would take a good package to pry him loose from Detroit who is starved for rotation depth as it is and will want to have as many quality arms around for when they try to reload for next season.
Warm Bodies: Rick Porcello
The former first-round pick Porcello has never lived up to his lofty prospect status and it sure looks like he never will. The Tigers would likely be glad to pawn him off on someone else just so they don’t have to suffer the indignity of non-tendering him after this season.
But what they’ll probably do is… nothing because the AL Central is so bad that it seems physically impossible for any team in the division to fall out of contention for the division crown before the end of July.