“The Dodgers seem like an obvious fit” to acquire J.D. Martinez from the Tigers, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. The two clubs discussed Martinez last winter, plus the Tigers have an interest in L.A. outfield prospect Alex Verdugo, though it remains to be seen if the Dodgers would trade the highly-touted Verdugo for a midseason rental like Martinez. Here’s a rundown of news about some of Detroit’s biggest trade chips, as per conversations between Fenech and several sources familiar with the thinking of both the Tigers and possible trade partners…
- The Dodgers are also interested in closer Justin Wilson, who would add another big left-handed arm to the L.A. bullpen. Wilson may be one of the most sought-after arms at the deadline, and given the premium on relief pitching, some believe the Tigers might get more for Wilson than they would for Martinez (Wilson is controlled through 2018, while Martinez is a free agent this winter). The Nationals have also had a scout following the Tigers this week, and Wilson is known to be one of their top potential trade targets as Washington looks to fix its ailing bullpen.
- Wilson has the subject of trade buzz since the offseason, and Fenech reports that the Astros came the closest to obtaining the southpaw over the winter. The Tigers asked Houston for top outfield prospect Derek Fisher at the time, and one would think Detroit’s interest has only increased given how Fisher has performed this season. Fisher has a superb .306/.370/.575 slash line and 19 homers over 336 Triple-A plate appearances, not to mention a .992 OPS during a 21-PA cup of coffee with the Astros in his big league debut. This is just my speculation, but since Houston’s bullpen is already arguably the league’s best, I’m not sure they would deal a top prospect for another reliever. On the other hand, if the Astros are unable to land starting pitching help, they could turn to the relief market in an attempt to form an ultra-bullpen, a la the 2015 Royals. The Astros have also had scouts recently watching the Tigers.
- The Cubs asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander and Alex Avila earlier this week, and Fenech reports that Chicago is indeed interested in having Avila fill the spot left behind the plate by Miguel Montero. In regards to Verlander, however, “the Cubs’ interest is more smoke than fire.”
- Verlander’s big contract limits his number of suitors, and Fenech lists just the Cubs, Dodgers and Astros as potential trade partners, though all have some drawbacks. Los Angeles may look to address other needs than its rotation, while an Astros move for Verlander “would be out of their character.” Still, Fenech figures Houston will at least check in with Detroit about the former Cy Young Award winner.
- There hasn’t been any buzz about Ian Kinsler, whose market is complicated by below-average numbers this season, his no-trade clause, and the fact that most contenders are already set at second base. Unless a contending team suffers an injury at the position, Fenech figures Kinsler will be an offseason trade candidate for the Tigers.