Roundtable: Are the Tigers Buyers or Sellers?

It's been a challenging first few months for the Tigers, as they've faced key injuries and sit at third place in the AL Central. With an aging team, a number of impending free agents, and a roster that might not have enough to win a World Series, should the Tigers consider being sellers at the trade deadline?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor

The Tigers are in win now mode. That's no secret, as has been evidenced by the myriad of moves that the club has made over the past two seasons to try and continue to challenge for a World Series, as owner Mike Ilitch desperately wants a title. But I think back to 2008, when a team that was built to win a World Series was clearly not on pace to do it, and they underwent a remake of the team. It didn't mean rebuilding, it meant retooling. Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez and Edgar Renteria all moved on, and the club found a way to compete and nearly win the division in a transition year in 2009, while positioning the club for their stretch of winning division titles starting in 2011. Conversely, the Phillies pushed hard for a World Series in the latter half of the last decade, and rather than retooling as things looked to be on a downturn, doubled down. They did win their World Series in 2008, but haven't been to the playoffs since 2011, and are among the worst teams in baseball without a well-stocked farm system. That could be the Tigers future, if they continue to try and double down. A decision to sell key commodities that are approaching free agency now like David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria could provide a return in young, Major League ready talent that could contribute in 2016, and that would be in addition to the money that would be freed up to make a splash in free agency this offseason. I don't think the Tigers will be sellers this month, but I do believe it's a path worth evaluating.

Mark Anderson, Director of Scouting

Given the run the Tigers have been on since 2006, it's hard to imagine them seriously being sellers at the trade deadline, not necessarily because the shouldn't be, but because they've been so good for nearly a decade that the thought has never really legitimately come up. As of this writing, the Tigers are six games back in the Division and 1.5 games back in the Wild Card; certainly not an enviable position, but not foreign territory for the organization over the last four years. To suggest that simply because they've been in this position before and made it to the playoffs is dishonest, largely because this is a different team; one with good but not great pitching and an offense that hasn't really found it's stride to date. I do believe the Tigers are capable of climbing back into the race and they will not only remain in the thick of the Wild Card hunt, but they will also hang around a few games back of the Royals for the bulk of the season. Is that enough? Is that the type of performance that warrants hoarding your pieces and trying to get more for the stretch run? What would the Tigers need to acquire in order to bolster their roster enough to make a serious run; and that's not even addressing how they would acquire such a player. The Tigers are in a difficult spot. They have a roster capable of competing in the playoffs and they are still close enough to the playoffs to justify making the push. They also have an owner desparate to win a title. Together, that's a combination that sounds like a club that's going to keep the band together and try to make a second half run. Personally, I think that's an appropriate move, save for one caveat; they look for opportunities to move specific pieces. Those pieces would be guys like Yoenis Cespedes, largely because there is no compensation if he leaves. There's likely compensation for the loss of David Price, Joakim Soria, and Alfredo Simon, but not Cespedes. As such, if you can move him, I think you do it and run with a combination of Davis, Gose, Martinez, and Collins in the outfield for the remainder of the season, and look to augment the roster with a deadline acquisition to help mitigate the loss of Cespedes.

James Chipman, Senior Correspondent

Absolutely not. Despite their disappointing start, the Tigers are only six games behind Kansas City in the Central, and 1 1/2 games out of a wild card spot. The roster was built to win now, and pressing the panic button seems a little premature to me. I fully expect the Tigers to be buyers at the deadline, and to retool their roster a bit, similar to seasons past, this offseason.

Chris Brown, Staff Writer

This is a cop-out, but I won't really have an answer for another few weeks. If this were fantasy baseball, I'd be selling like crazy right now, because this team appears to lack the sort of consistency to make a run at a championship. But this is real baseball, and the Tigers are right in the thick of the wild card race, so it probably behooves them to be buyers. I am 99% sure they won't be sellers at the deadline, but I think it should definitely be on the table. With six key contributors from the 2015 team heading into free agency, we can count on next year's team being drastically different, and almost certainly much worse. So the only question is, do they try to get a jump on their rebuild now, or do they make one last run for glory? In general, I'd say it's better to make a run at the playoffs, because who knows when they might be in contention again? But I certainly wouldn't argue with anyone who thinks they need to sell now to avoid completely cratering.

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