Last July, Al Avila declared the Detroit Tigers were “not rebuilding anymore,” and the 2021 MLB trade Deadline passed with just one move — a trade of left-hander Daniel Norris to Milwaukee for pitching prospect Reese Olson — from the general manager and his front office, facing “no pressure” to sell off assets.
However, as Avila’s remarks near their one-year anniversary and the 2022 deadline approaches, the Tigers (24-38) are struggling again and could be motivated to deal before this year’s slightly later-than-usual deadline, which is 6 p.m. Aug. 2.
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On Wednesday, ESPN tabbed the Tigers as sellers and suggested Avila should get everything he can for pending free agents. ESPN also released a list of 148 players to know ahead of the deadline.
Here’s a look at six Tigers who are potential trade candidates, according to ESPN:
OF Robbie Grossman
Signed to a 2-year, $10 million contract in January 2021, Grossman was a stable presence in the lineup during his first season in Detroit. In 156 games, he posted career highs in home runs (23), RBIs (67) and stolen bases (20).
Year 2 has not been as kind to Grossman, who’s batting .200 with no home runs, 10 RBIs and two steals. He returned to the Tigers last week after missing 10 games with a neck injury and is 3-for-15 with four strikeouts in five games since.
But few switch-hitting outfielders appear available, meaning Grossman could be a commodity if he rebounds quickly.
RHP Michael Fulmer
A deadline acquisition from the New York Mets in the 2015 Yoenis Cespedes trade, Fulmer starred quickly with the Tigers, winning 2016 AL Rookie of the Year and making the 2017 AL All-Star squad.
After battling injuries in 2019-20, he remerged in 2021 as a reliever and continues to impress out of the Tigers’ bullpen this season. Fulmer has 24 strikeouts, 10 walks and a career-low 2.35 ERA over 23 innings this season, with opposing batters hitting only .089 vs his slider.
Fulmer, a free agent after this season, should be an attractive high-leverage option for any contender.
C Tucker Barnhart
Barnhart was brought over from the Cincinnati Reds in November to handle the Tigers’ pitching staff. The two-time NL Gold Glove winner has impressed defensively. He remains a great pitch framer, ranking in the league’s 76th percentile.
But he hasn’t offered much at the plate this season, slashing .234/.279/.266 with a .545 OPS. The switch-hitter has no home runs and only six RBIs.
Barnhart’s defensive prowess alone might not entice contenders to pick up the remainder of his 2022 $7.5 million salary.
RHP Wily Peralta
Peralta is 2-1 with 23 strikeouts, four walks and a 2.05 ERA across 26⅓ innings this season, starting once and pitching multiple innings in eight of his 16 relief appearances.
Opponents are hitting just .120 against his slider this season and his split finger was elite last season, producing an .080 average. Batters’ expected slugging percentage against Peralta is in the 82nd percentile and he has allowed only one home run this season.
Peralta is on a one-year, $2.5 million deal; he could provide solid rotation or relief help to a contender.
RHP Michael Pineda
Detroit added Pineda on a one-year, $5.5 million deal in March, and work visa issues delayed his debut with the team until late April.
He was 1-2 with 12 strikeouts, four walks and a 3.22 ERA in five starts before a middle finger fracture suffered May 14 against the Baltimore Orioles landed him on the 15-day injured list.
Pineda avoided surgery and is close to beginning a rehab assignment but is holding until his injured finger stops bothering him when he throws his slider.
RHP Joe Jimenez
Jimenez is the only Tiger mentioned by ESPN who isn’t a pending free agent. He’ll be arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter after signing a one-year, $1.79 million deal last offseason.
Jimenez has struggled to live up to the form that made him an All-Star in 2018, with anERA of 5.43 with 26 home runs allowed over 127⅔ innings from 2019-21. He walked a career-high 6.9 batters per nine innings last season, but that’s down to 2.8 in 2022.
Jimenez has 28 strikeouts, seven walks and a 3.63 ERA in 22⅓ innings. If the Tigers deal him, they’d likely be looking for a more substantial return than rentals such as Fulmer, Peralta or Pineda would bring.
Contact Mason Young: MEYoung@freepress.com Follow him on Twitter: @Mason_Young_0