Chris Brown (Senior Staff Writer)
I think this is almost two questions now, because Verlander's contract no longer seems as unwieldy as it once did.
As far as Miggy goes, I think if you can find anyone to take that contract you have to do it.
Paul Wezner (Executive Editor)
I definitely understand the point about Verlander's contract no longer looking like a massive liability, the flip side to that means that if you trade him now, you should be able to receive something of value in return, in addition to shedding the dollars.
Mark Anderson (Director of Scouting)
A bit of a tangent here, but how do you account for what this does to the fan base? I have to believe it would be pretty demoralizing to the average fan
Salary dumping obviously in theory would be helpful, but what exactly does freeing up salary do for the Tigers? It's either giving money back ownership (that has admittedly overspent for many years so can't be faulted too much for trying to rightsize that), or giving Al Avila money to spend on the open market, and with the exception of re-signing his own son, he has been striking out on free agent acquisitions.
I think morale definitely matters - JV and Miggy have been part of many division/league championships, have each won trophies and have dominated this era for the Tigers. Trading these two is a signal to the fanbase that this era is over, regardless of who comes back in return.
There's a definite negative impact on morale in the short term. I think there are a lot of fans who want to see Verlander and Cabrera retire here. But I also think back to Curtis Granderson, who was a huge fan favorite when he was traded. Fans seemed to get over that fairly quickly when the team started winning again. So to me the most important thing would be getting a solid return that can keep the team competitive in the near future.
I definitely see Paul's point about a pure salary dump though. Given Avila's free agent signings to this point, I don't think a move to just save money would make anyone happy.
I think it could get ugly with the everyday fan base of both were traded. While it is still the Illitch family, there's a perception of new ownership, and some rumbling unhappiness with Avila, and when you add that to trading those two icons, I think the fans could run away in droves for a while.
I actually think the club may be better off trying to get those two to buy in to mentoring the next great Tigers club....be honest about an intent to move Kinsler, Iggy, JD, Victor, Zimm (if possible), J-Wilson, etc., get as much back as humanly possible, and then try to get by while the returns mature under their tutelage. You still have a couple of future HoFers chasing career milestones, along with Fulmer to draw at the gate and keep the fans at least paying attention to the team, then maybe you time it for one run with the young kids and the two old guys.
I actually think that is probably the most likely path forward. I can see them not moving JV unless the return is exceptionally good, and I really can't envision a realistic trade of Cabrera. If they make the right moves with the other guys they just might be able to turn this around in 2-3 years.
I think that's a great idea and a very plausible path forward. But I think they'd have to get JV's signoff, and almost have to sign him to another "Tiger for life" extension. If the club is mid-rebuild in 2019, he'll be hitting free agency and even if the club would have young talent and is turning the corner, he would be near the end and another chance at a title would have to be enticing.
The other thing I think is worth noting is their ability to have a rebuild. Even if they wanted to, could the Tigers unload the Zimmermann and Upton contracts? That's nearly $50M between the two of them. That's not insurmountable, but if you're trying to right size, that's at least 1/3 of the payroll already. If you keep Cabrera and JV, now you're at $110M, for 4 players.
I work under the assumption the Upton is opting out....he'd have to get hurt or completely tank the rest of this season not to, imo.
Based on the market last season, all indications I've seen are that he has no intention of opting out.
The thing about the bad market for power guys last year was that they were mostly 1B/DH types, right? I think there might be more of a market for a power bat who is also a solid fielder. I haven't looked to see who might be in need of a LF though.
Very good point as well, Chris. Perhaps the market for Upton looks better this fall and he goes ahead and opts out.
I think where we've ultimately landed is that it would be really hard for the Tigers to trade either for a number of reasons - what they could get in return, impact to the fans and attendance, as well as what the team would do if they did actually free up that money. Will be interesting to see what happens in the next 8 weeks.