Detroit Tigers: Buy or sell, there’s no easy choice


Buy or Sell?  In the sports world, that question isn’t just part of a segment on ESPN’s Around the Horn. It’s an annual question that teams on the fringe of contention in any sport need to ask themselves before the trade deadline.

While there were times in the last few years where the Detroit Tigers were not in first place during the deadline days, they were at least within easy striking distance of the division leader. This made owner Mike Ilitch’s answer to that buy or sell question very simple: “Go out and get the pieces that we are missing and win us a World Series!”

Of course the Tigers didn’t win the Championship in any of those years, but the point is a lot of the moves team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski made at recent trade deadlines helped solidify teams that became serious contenders to win the title.

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The 2015 version of the team has talent. Enough talent to make a push for a wild card spot? Sure, but after watching this roster perform with inconsistency the entire year (minus that awesome 9-1 start), I just don’t think there are moves that can be made that can make the Tigers’ chances at a World Series a realistic possibility.

Looking around the league, many analysts are saying Detroit should sell and avoid the fate of a team that didn’t answer the above question early enough. The Philadelphia Phillies are now stuck with worst record in baseball and are stuck with un-tradeable contracts like Ryan Howard.

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Their best trade assets are Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon, and they don’t move the needle quite like what David Price or Aroldis Chapman do. They had chances a few years ago to sell assets while they still had value, but they decided to hold onto them for whatever reasons. So people just automatically assume it’s as simple as choosing to be a seller and the Tigers can avoid the situation the Phillies find themselves in.

I want to say it is just that easy for Detroit. The main problem is that the way to avoid Philadelphia’s fate is to make sure you aren’t stuck with aging stars on monster contracts. Well, the Tigers already have those, with Justin Verlander being the main guy that has the least return of investment on the team right now and Victor Martinez being a constant injury risk.

The best trade assets on the roster are David Price and Yoenis Cespedes, guys in the middle of their prime that look like better long-term options than Verlander or VMart. Unfortunately, thanks to the now mostly depleted farm system, there doesn’t seem to be a way to sign either guy while also upgrading the talent in bullpen and starting rotation.

So it seems the best option at this time is to do what ESPN is reporting, and that is to make Price and Cespedes available and hope that Dombrowski can get back pieces that can get Detroit back in contention while Miguel Cabrera is still a top-of-the-line hitter. Boston won a title recently while retooling their roster around an aging David Ortiz, maybe the Tigers can do the same?

I wish I could buy that possibility.

Next: Dombrowski Admits Selling is a Possibility

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