The Detroit Tigers are on the fringes of the playoff hunt, but they should be targeting prospects instead of MLB players at the trade deadline.

The American League is so bunched up that almost every team can close their eyes and convince themselves they are in a position to contend for a Wild Card berth. That’s the beauty of the second wild-card spot in both leagues — it helps to fuel irrational pipe dreams of general managers and owners who refuse to begin a rebuild because they just might squeak into a one-game playoff.

The Detroit Tigers cannot get suckered into holding onto their trade chips at the deadline for another year. They must take a page out of the New York Yankees book from 2016 and begin trading off at least one or two big names for prospects. Years of investing heavily in free agents and having Dave Dombrowski running the front office have left the Tigers with one of the weakest farm systems in the league.

Go ahead, Detroit, pull the plug on the 2017 season and begin thinking about 2018 and beyond.

Trade Assets

  • J.D. Martinez — The slugging outfielder/DH is unlikely to re-sign with the Tigers after the season. Martinez was an outstanding find for Detroit off the scrap heap from the Houston Astros four years ago. He is in the middle of the best season of his career.
  • Alex Avila — Was an All-Star at catcher and won the Silver Slugger in 2011 before his career hit the skids. Avila batted just .210/.337/.345 from 2014 to 2016, but is having a resurgent year in 2017. Avila has put injuries behind him and is hitting .319/.442/.596 with 10 home runs.
  • Justin Wilson — Left-handed reliever with a dominating strikeout rate. Wilson can occasionally fall victim to the longball, but has only blown one save since being given the title of closer in Detroit.
  • Ian Kinsler — Has a full no-trade clause and is having one of the worst years of his career, but is still an established veteran with a solid glove.
  • Justin Upton — He can opt-out at the end of the 2017 season, and could go either way.
  • Justin Verlander — The right-hander has not been able to carry over his dominant 2016 form. Verlander is owed $56 million over the next two years. Not many teams will be desperate to take that on.

Potential Trade Partners

  • Colorado Rockies — Could use a power-hitting right fielder. How much longer can they wait for Carlos Gonzalez to snap out of his slump?
  • St. Louis Cardinals — The Cardinals desperately need a middle-of-the-order bat to anchor their lineup. The NL Central is still very much in play if they can pull off an impact move.
  • Toronto Blue Jays — The Jays have struggled to replace Edwin Encarnacion’s presence in their lineup. It also doesn’t help matters that Jose Bautista continues to age rapidly.
  • New York Yankees — Armed with a deep farm system, never count out the Yankees.
  • Texas Rangers — The Rangers could use a power hitter like Martinez who is not all or nothing like Mike Napoli and Joey Gallo.

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