Detroit Tigers: Predicting the 2018 lineup ahead of the trade deadline

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 20: Justin Upton
SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 20: Justin Upton /
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Looking ahead to what the 2018 Detroit Tigers lineup might look like as the club prepares to trade assets and build for the future at the trade deadline.

Detroit Tigers
DETROIT, MI – JUNE 27: James McCann /

The Detroit Tigers are almost certainly going to big sellers at the 2017 trade deadline. With a 34-43 record, they’re seven games out of the division lead and sit second from the bottom in the America League standings. FanGraphs’ statistical model gives them a six percent chance of reaching the postseason (third-worst odds in the AL).

The team’s focus will soon shift to the future as they unload veteran players and collect talent in the form of minor league prospects. Many of the prospects they receive will require multiple years of development in the minor leagues before they’re major league ready (although the Tigers would love to receive players who are already knocking on the door) and so they’ll likely have to fill next year’s roster with players already in the organization.

With that in mind, here’s a look at who could be starting for the Tigers next season.

Catcher: James McCann

James McCann has yet to blossom into the starter-caliber catcher the organization hoped he’d become. That being said, he’ll still be inexpensive as a first-year arbitration eligible player in 2018. With the Tigers likely out of contention in 2018 and 2019, McCann will get plenty of opportunity to assert himself as the long-term catcher in Detroit.

John Hicks will be the nominal backup next season but could wrest the job away from McCann if the latter continues to struggle at the plate.

The Tigers will do everything they can to move Alex Avila at the trade deadline this year while his value is high. Avila was signed to a one-year contract worth $2 million this offseason in a deal that has become one of the biggest steals of the year. He’s earned himself a multi-year contract (barring a catastrophic second half) and the rebuilding Tigers likely won’t be bidders.