Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal exited last night’s start against the Twins following five shutout innings and just 77 pitches, prompting immediate speculation given his recent appearance on the rumor mill. Instead, the Tigers announced that Skubal was dealing with “arm fatigue.” The lefty downplayed the severity of the issue, telling reporters that he plans to make his next start. That, it seems, will definitively come in a Tigers uniform, as Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press reports that the organization has decided Skubal will not be moved by today’s 6pm ET deadline. They could potentially listen to offers on him again this winter, however, per Petzold.
It’s not clear whether the Tigers had made up their mind before Skubal’s latest outing or if the decision stems from the fact that other clubs are now surely a bit wary about Skubal’s immediate outlook. A trade always appeared to be a long shot anyhow, as Skubal has four more seasons of club control remaining and has pitched quite well in 2022. Through 112 2/3 innings, the former top prospect has turned in a 3.67 ERA with a 24.7% strikeout rate, 6.6% walk rate and 46.6% ground-ball rate.
For a Tigers club that lost Casey Mize to Tommy John surgery and has seen Matt Manning battle shoulder troubles this season, trading Skubal would only further cloud the immediate outlook for their rotation. They’d surely have needed multiple MLB-ready pieces with even greater club control that Skubal has, but a team parting with that type of package now seems all but impossible to imagine.
Instead, Tuesday will likely see the Tigers focus on finding deals for members of their quietly solid bullpen. SNY’s Andy Martino tweets that the Mets have been eyeing righty Michael Fulmer and lefty Andrew Chafin, both of whom can become free agents at season’s end (Chafin via a player option).
[Related: Tigers Trade Robbie Grossman to Braves]
Interestingly, however, Petzold suggests that if Chafin remains with the Tigers, he’s likely to exercise that player option due to Detroit’s relative proximity to his family in Ohio. If another club were to acquire Chafin, he could well turn down the option, which leads to a disconnect in perceived value. If the Tigers consider him likely to stay beyond the current season, but interested parties are effectively viewing him as a rental, it may be hard to align on a return that both teams deem fair value.
Elsewhere in the bullpen, Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic reports that opposing clubs have not been willing to put together the type of prospect(s) the Tigers have been seeking for righty Joe Jimenez, who’s under club control through the 2023 season. The 27-year-old righty is finally enjoying the long-awaited breakout for which the organization has hoped, pitching 40 innings of 2.93 ERA ball with a massive 35% strikeout rate against a minuscule 5% walk rate.
Jimenez is averaging a career-high 95.9 mph on his heater, and according to Statcast, he’s among the league leaders in fastball spin rate (93rd percentile), opponents’ chase rate (91st percentile), whiff rate (82nd percentile), expected ERA (92nd percentile) and expected wOBA (92nd percentile). Given that dominance, a remaining year of control and a modest $1.79MM salary, it’s understandable if Detroit sets a lofty asking price.