Tag Archives: Justin Upton

Detroit Tigers deadline deals are Justin time

Justins Verlander and Upton dealt from Tigers to contenders
The Detroit Tigers dealt away a pair of Justins in big trades with contenders on Thursday. Detroit sent away ace Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros. The Tigers also dealt slugging outfielder Justin Upton to the Los Angeles Angels.
August 31 was the deadline for MLB teams to acquire players who had passed through waivers, and also have those players automatically eligible for participation in the postseason.
In the first trade, Upton was shipped to the Halos. In exchange, the Tigers received Grayson Long, a pitcher in their minors system, and also will receive cash considerations or a player to be named.
Upton is signed through the 2021 season at $22 million per year. The 30-year old, 11-year big league veteran also has a contract opt-out following this season. The Angels did not request that he waive that option as part of the deal.
This wasn’t the only deal for the Angels. They also acquired second baseman Brandon Phillips from the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are also sending cash to help with the Phillips contract, while receiving catcher Tony Sanchez in return.
The Angels are currently 1.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins and also are 2.5 behind the New York Yankees in the race for one of two American League Wildcard playoff berths.
The two deals from the Angels perspective are certainly aimed at getting the club back to the postseason for just the second time this decade. The club was swept out of the 2014 ALDS by the Kansas City Royals.
Especially relevant is that this is an attempt to demonstrate to superstar Mike Trout, who can leave via free agency in a few years, that they are willing to do what it takes to win. That 2014 ALDS is the only playoff appearance of his career.

VERLANDER DEALT TO ASTROS

Verlander was finally traded to Houston with just a minute to spare in negotiations that went back and forth, from done deal to off-the-table, multiple times in the closing hours. Since Verlander is engaged to model/actress Kate Upton, it could also be said that Detroit technically dealt away two Uptons.
Furthermore, the Astros lead the AL West by 11.5 games over those Angels. They are hoping that not only can Verlander help secure them the league’s overall best record, but also help them to advance deep into October.
Houston owner Jim Crane was quoted by ESPN on the Verlander acquisition:
“We hope it positions us to get into the playoffs, get by the first round, get into the second round and get to the World Series and win it. That’s what we’ve been working at, and that’s what we’ll continue to work at, and we want to win.”

TIGERS REBUILDING, OTHER TEAMS ALSO DEAL

Most of all for the Tigers, this is clearly about rebuilding. Coming to Detroit are a trio of prospects in pitcher Franklin Perez, outfielder Daz Cameron, and catcher Jake Rogers.
GM Al Avila was quoted as follows by Chris McCoskey of the Detroit News on the Verlander deal:
“On behalf of the Detroit Tigers, we sincerely thank Justin Verlander for his remarkable 13 seasons of dedication to the organization. He is someone who I believe to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.  We wish Justin all the best as he starts a new chapter in his illustrious career.”
MLB Pipeline has immediately installed Perez as the Tigers’ new top prospect, with Cameron and Rogers ranked 6th and 8th on that list. Long has been ranked in the #15 slot. Sanchez has already appeared in 51 big league games across parts of three seasons.
There were other deadline deals as well. The Chicago White Sox sent pitcher Miguel Gonzalez to the Texas Rangers. In exchange the Chisox received prospect third baseman Ti’Quan Forbes. The Seattle Mariners dealt outfielder Leonys Martin to the Chicago Cubs for a PTBNL and cash. In addition, the Cleveland Indians dealt catcher Erik Kratz to the New York Yankees for cash.
In another deadline move, the Astros claimed outfielder Cameron Maybin off waivers from the Angels. The Phillies also made a move, adding reliever Juan Nicasio from the Pirates off waivers.

2016 Winter Meetings: Detroit Tigers

There are few teams in as interesting a position as the Detroit Tigers find themselves in during this off-season. 
Al Avila, the EVP of Baseball Operations and the team’s GM has to decide whether to rebuild, or retool for another big 2017 run.
The Tigers were just short this past season, finishing at 86-75. That record left the club eight games in back of the division-winning Cleveland Indians. But Detroit was only 2.5 games off the AL Wildcard pace.
This is a club with most of its key performers already past age 30, a few well into those 30’s. The decision to be made is whether to cash in on those players while they still have real value, or add to that core and make another playoff push.
There are heavy rumors that Detroit is looking to slash payroll. The club has been big spenders and steady contenders for years. While they would like to keep contending while also getting rid of some big salaries, that usually proves a difficult tightrope to walk.

VERLANDER AND MIGGY

The biggest problem in making a move might not be the players themselves, but those salaries. Their two signature players, first baseman Miguel Cabrera and starting pitcher Justin Verlander, could find themselves on the move if the right deal is presented.
Verlander will turn 34 years old as spring training gets underway. He is owed $84 million over the next three years, with a 2020 vesting option. That would require a top five Cy Young finish in his age 37 season, which is unlikely.
Cabrera will turn 34 just after the 2017 season gets underway. He has a $28 million salary for next season, and then another $184 million guaranteed over the following six years.
There are also a pair of vesting options with Miggy for 2024 and 2025 at $30 million each. Those are unlikely, as they would require him to finish among the top ten in MVP voting during his ages 41 and 42 seasons.

POSITION PLAYERS WHO COULD GO IN A FIRE SALE

Whether or not the Tigers can move either of their marquee veterans, they will likely listen on a number of similarly aging, high-salaried, but talented players.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler just won his first career Gold Glove Award at age 34. He is coming off one of the best offensive seasons of his 11-year big league career as well.
Kinsler could be very attractive to another team. He will be entering the final guaranteed season of his contract at $11 million, with a $12 team option for 2018. So the dollars are reasonable, and the commitment is short-term only.
J.D. Martinez can play either corner outfield spot, and spends most of next season at age 29. He will then be a free agent. His salary is $11.75 million, but again, it’s only a one-year commitment for an acquiring club.
Left fielder Justin Upton also plays most of next season at age 29. He is owed another $110+ million guaranteed over the next five years, though he can opt out of the deal after the coming season.
Based on Upton’s recent seasons and the fact that he will be aging into his 30’s, it is probably a longshot that he takes the opt out. That is, unless he has a monster 2017 season.
DH Victor Martinez turns 39 years old just before Christmas. He is still owed a guaranteed $18 million for each of the next two seasons. Martinez has played just 15 games at first base over the last two seasons combined, so trade partners are surely limited to the American League.

TIGERS PITCHERS WHO COULD GO

Starting pitchers Mike Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez will each turn 33 years old in January and February respectively. Each will become a free agent after next season.
Sanchez has a $16.8 million salary with a 2018 team option at the same level. Pelfrey is a far more attractive $8 million.
Closer Francisco Rodriguez is another arm who will be a free agent after the 2017 season. ‘KRod’ will turn 35 years old in January. The 15-year veteran was brought back for one more go-around at just $6 million.
Jordan Zimmermann just signed a big free agent deal with Detroit last off-season. But if the club decides on a full rebuild, he could be moved. He turns 31 years old in May, and is guaranteed another $92 million over the next four years.

DETROIT AS BUYERS?

Nothing would surprise me with Detroit, frankly. If the Tigers decide to buy, they could be in on someone like Chris Archer, for instance.
However, they could still try to move a couple of big salaries while also trying to swing that kind of deal. At the GM meetings a few weeks back, Avila addressed the Tigers situation.
I think there’s going to be interest in several of our players, I do,” said Avila per Anthony Fenech with the Detroit Free Press“It’s just going to be a matter of where we go with those talks. But, yes, there is interest, and we expect there to be interest.”
One thing that appears certain is that Avila’s cell phone will be ringing off the hook down at National Harbor next week. In fact, it has probably already been ringing for weeks. Keep an eye on the Tigers this winter.

Tigers Facing Buy or Rebuild Decision

The Detroit Tigers could become one of the most interesting teams in Major League Baseball this off-season as they decide whether to go for it again, or deal stars and rebuild.

For most of the last 11 seasons the Detroit Tigers have been a legitimate contending team in the American League Central Division.
In those years the Tigers have registered eight winning campaigns and one .500 season. They have been to the MLB postseason five times, including the World Series twice and the ALCS on two other occasions.
The 2016 Tigers finished 86-75, good for second place in the division to the eventual AL champion Cleveland Indians. The club finished just 2.5 games out of an AL Wildcard playoff berth.
The Tigers may, however, have a looming problem on their hands. More than a handful of their key players are now on the wrong side of 30 years of age, many approaching or in their mid-30’s.
Team management is now approaching a crossroads with the franchise.
Do they tweak the roster a bit and try to squeeze another winning, possibly contending, season out of this core of players? 
Or should they take a more difficult course, one that might result in a couple of losing seasons? Deal away a number of these veterans for strong prospects who could become the core of the next generation of Tigers contenders?

In a recent Fangraphs piece “Grading the Trade Value of Miguel Cabarera, Justin Verlander” this very question was visited by Craig Edwards.
“If they aren’t going all in next year — and it appears they aren’t — the quickest route to the playoffs is to tear it all down. To do that, the team needs to move Miguel Cabrera, and that might best be done by packaging him with Justin Verlander.”
Edwards reported that the Tigers are committed to approximately $175 million in contract obligations for the 2017 season.
He also notes that ESPN’s MLB insider Buster Olney has reported that the Tigers do not want to completely tear down their roster, instead preferring to contend once again next year.
Is that reality? Can the Tigers contend once again in 2017 in what should again be one of the toughest divisions in baseball?
Verlander had a strong bounce-back season this year, one that has made him a very legitimate contender for a second career AL Cy Young Award.
But in the two previous seasons, Verlander seemed to be in decline. He will be 34-years old as spring training opens.
For a possible recent comparison, that was the exact age at which Philadelphia Phillies aces Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee each experienced their final strong seasons.
Miguel Cabrera turns that same 34 years of age just two weeks into the regular season. He stayed healthy this year, continuing a phenomenal career of consistent production that is sure to culminate with a Hall of Fame induction sometime in the next decade.
Ian Kinsler experienced a power spike, but will turn 35 years old next June. Victor Martinez continued as one of the AL’s best hitters, but will turn 38 years old next month.
Anibal Sanchez slipped in performance for a third consecutive season. He turns 34 years of age in February. During his first season in Detroit, Mike Pelfrey was terrible. He turns 33 in January.
Closer Francisco Rodriguez will turn 34 years of age in January. “KRod” just had his contract picked up, so he’ll be back. But his performance slipped slightly from back-to-back AL All-Star campaigns.
Jordan Zimmermann will be 31 years old in May. In his first go-around in Detroit after signing a big free agent contract last off-season, Zimmermann lost most of the final three months to injury.
Is everybody old? No. Talented third baseman Nick Castellanos will play at 25 next year.
Right fielder J.D. Martinez will be 28 for most of the year, and catcher James McCannturns 27 halfway through the season.
Still in his prime, left fielder Justin Upton will play almost the entire season at age 28 years.
Aside from Miggy, he has the second-longest contract coming from the team, owed more than $110 million over the next five years.
On the mound, righty starter Michael Fulmer is perhaps the leading AL Rookie of the Year contender.
Fulmer will turn 24 in spring training. His young lefty counterpart, Daniel Norris, turns that same 24 years old a month later.
In the bullpen, Bruce Rondon turns 26 years of age next month. The fireballer has closer-of-the-future written all over him.
The Tigers top prospects are not likely to help next year. Pitchers Beau Burrows and Matt Manning will be 20 and 19 respectively.
Outfielders Christin Stewart and Derek Hill, the club’s top position player prospects, will be turning 23 and 21 respectively next month.
Detroit has already made an early move this off-season to lop off some salary. This past week, the club dealt outfielder Cameron Maybin to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for prospect pitcher Victor Alcantara.
The Tigers could have paid Maybin $9 million to return, or paid him a $1 million buyout and said goodbye.
By dealing him away they get the best of both worlds, shedding salary while actually getting a potential future piece in return.
The contracts of Kinsler, Sanchez and Pelfrey will all run their final years in 2017, not counting modest buyouts for the first two.
Losing those salaries will more than off-set increases elsewhere over the ensuing couple of seasons.
There is a valid argument to be made that the trade value on the stars will never be higher than it is right now. Deep pocketed teams with plenty of young talent could step up with nice packages.
However, if the Tigers really believe that they can get two more strong seasons out of Verlander and Cabrera, then I say they are better served keeping them.
The Tigers can still go for it in the 2017 season, and continue building more young talent through the draft and through lesser yet astute trades.
The decision on which way to go makes the Detroit Tigers one of the most compelling organizations this winter. Their own fans and all of baseball will be watching to see how they choose to move forward.