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Inbox: Can Tigers stay in title race?

Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fan questions
June 18, 2018

DETROIT -- Sorting through the inbox at a coffee shop on the road from Detroit to Cincinnati:

DETROIT -- Sorting through the inbox at a coffee shop on the road from Detroit to Cincinnati:

The Tigers have a chance to hang in the Indians' rear-view mirror. The problem will be what happens next month, as the Trade Deadline approaches and the goals of Detroit and Cleveland split off. The Indians' window to contend is now -- not just for the division, but the World Series, and one would expect them to make the deals they need to improve for the stretch run. Detroit's window is in the future, and general manager Al Avila made it clear Sunday that the club's surprising performance of late isn't going to change that.
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If the right offer comes along that makes the Tigers better in the long run, they'll trade away key parts at the Deadline, whether they're close in the race or not. If not, they'll stand pat. They will not trade prospects to get veteran players and make a run at the division.

Yes, as my colleague Jon Morosi wrote Monday, there's trade interest building in Matthew Boyd, who has quietly become one of the American League's pitching surprises this year. He's having a breakout season at an age (27) when pitchers tend to figure things out about their game. Boyd is a cost-controlled pitcher who hasn't hit arbitration eligibility yet, though that could happen this coming offseason depending on the Super Two cutoff. He has four more seasons before free agency. Plus, Boyd is versatile enough that he can slot into a team's bullpen depending on the need.
That doesn't mean the Tigers will deal him at next month's Trade Deadline. But if they're willing to listen to interest in Michael Fulmer, they'll listen to interest in Boyd. Remember, if you count top pick Casey Mize, Detroit's top five prospects according to MLB Pipeline are starting pitchers, so this is an area of long-term depth.

Though the Tigers made a big prospect shift Monday by promoting right-hander Alex Faedo (Detroit's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline) and center field Daz Cameron (No. 9) from Class A Advanced Lakeland to Double-A Erie, that doesn't necessarily make a promotion imminent for right-hander Beau Burrows (No. 4) and Christin Stewart (No. 10). While I think Burrows will pitch at Triple-A Toledo sometime this summer, I think it's more likely the Tigers will wait a little while longer, maybe until top prospect Franklin Perez returns from his lat injury. That said, Avila was in Erie on Monday to see Burrows pitch against a pretty good lineup for New Hampshire, the Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate.
Stewart is on a different timetable, and Avila gave every indication Sunday the club was going to remain patient with him. He's more likely to be a late-season callup at this point, giving him more time to work in left field.

Daniel Norris is currently on a throwing progression in Lakeland, Fla., according to manager Ron Gardenhire. He still has a while to go before he pitches in games, and he'll surely make a Minor League rehab assignment when he does. The important thing for the Tigers now is to get Norris healthy and keep him healthy, giving him a chance to focus on pitching when he does come back.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.