The Tigers have several players known to be available, and ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter) that the team is currently exploring trade scenarios involving multiple players as a means of clearing some salary off the books. That would mesh with a recent report from Olney’s colleague, Jerry Crasnick, in which Crasnick reported that Detroit has tried to attach second baseman Ian Kinsler to Justin Wilson in trade talks with the Brewers. (Not to say that Kinsler is a pure salary dump, of course, as he too carries value to other clubs.)
In addition to Wilson and Kinsler, the Tigers are expected to move catcher Alex Avila and are reported to have shopped Justin Verlander around the league. Detroit could also conceivably move right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who has been much improved in six starts since returning from the minors. The team’s enormous commitment to righty Jordan Zimmermann looks largely immovable right now thanks to Zimmermann’s struggles and full no-trade clause, and while Justin Upton has absolutely raked over the past calendar year, he’s owed $88.5MM from 2018-21 and has the right to opt out of his contract at season’s end as well.
Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press adds some more context to the Tigers’ stance on Verlander, reporting that Detroit has shown a willingness to pay off the remainder of Verlander’s $28MM salary in 2017 — a sum of about $10.4MM — but they’re not interested in picking up any of the $56MM he’s owed from 2018-19. That hasn’t been enough to generate any serious talks surrounding Verlander to date.
Michael Fulmer is the most intriguing name to pop up in trade talks this summer, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s been difficult to gauge exactly what the Tigers’ plans are for the reigning Rookie of the Year. Sherman writes that some execs have been told that Fulmer is firmly off limits, while others say the Tigers have briefly floated his name before turning talks to Justin Verlander. Perhaps most interestingly, Sherman writes that one exec said the Tigers pitched a scenario in which Fulmer would be packaged with the remaining money on the contracts of Zimmermann ($80.7MM through 2020) or Upton ($96.7MM through 2021).
MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweets that the Brewers and Tigers remain engaged in ongoing talks pertaining to Kinsler and Wilson, though he also cautions that no deal is close. Earlier tonight, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reported that the Rockies are interested in both Avila and Wilson, which would create another package scenario, though not one that would give the Rox much of an opportunity to shed salary, as both are highly affordable. The Cubs have been frequently connected to both Verlander and Avila as well, with Morosi tweeting a couple of hours ago that Chicago has maintained some level of interest in Verlander but is reluctant to pick up his whole contract in a trade (as are the rest of the teams in MLB). Fenech notes in his above-linked column that the Cubs have had scouts at each of Verlander’s past three starts.