The Tigers are looking to get younger & cheaper but are having a difficult time doing so this offseason and may end up making only minor adjustments to the roster before opening day.
There were also the persistent rumors that the Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to move the face of their franchise, Andrew McCutchen, which would have affected any J.D. Martinez trade talks, as does having multiple sluggers still available as free agents.
Then former Tigers beat writer Jon (Paul) Morosi tweeted out this bit of information regarding the Tigers lack of activity in pursuing a player:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 8, 2016
What this tweet may signal is nothing more than some people connecting dots of an open CF spot in Detroit & a team with a recent history of making bold moves over the winter with a team in Pittsburgh looking to get younger & cheaper itself.
While at this time were simply left with the Tigers & Pirates not talking to each other, it does give us time to take a look at what would go into a trade between these two teams and if it would even be worth it for the Tigers to pursue McCutchen.
The Pirates were rumored to be looking for some promising young pitchers from the Nationals for McCutchen before that deal fell apart, the Rangers also kicked the tires on him and passed.
As Deadspin notes, the once borderline great Centerfielder seems to have little market value & his production fell off a cliff in 2016 (compared to his normal production).
If the Pirates are still looking for top end pitching prospects for McCutchen, then a deal will probably not happen, but if they are simply looking to move on from the 30-year old, fearing they won’t be able to convince him to move to a corner outfield spot, then the Tigers could be the answer.
The Tigers would still have to move out payroll, as they will not go over the Luxury Tax this offseason and are right up against the threshold now. But, with rumors surrounding interest in Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers potentially saving upwards of $8 million on him, a trade of Justin Wilson would save another $2.7 million.
The Tigers would still have to move J.D. Martinez, who also seems to be more difficult to move than previously thought. But, a trade of Martinez would clear $11.75 million from the books, clearing out almost $22.5 million in salary, leaving more than enough for the Tigers to bring McCutchen in at his $14 million and still have a Luxury Tax buffer.
Why would the Tigers want McCutchen over J.D. Martinez? With out a clear option in Centerfield for 2017, the defensively poor McCutchen could still be given a try, which is more than the Tigers have now.
He also would bring, if he returns to his numbers resembling 2010-15, a player that gets on base at an average of .391 & had 22 steals per year. That would help out at the top of the Tigers order, more so than another slugger behind Miguel Cabrera & Victor Martinez does on a team that struggled to find a constant lead off presence in 2016.
While this is pure speculation & a lot of parts would need to move, as Jon Morosi speculates, the Tigers hole in CF & desire to move payroll & Pirates desire to move on from McCutchen in CF could provide a match come mid January.