The Tigers are positioned to be one of the most intriguing sellers in baseball ahead of the July 31 Trade Deadline, and sources said this week the team is open to moving virtually any veteran on its roster.
The Tigers are in the second full season of a rebuild, with a pitching-rich farm system likely to deliver an above-average Major League rotation to Detroit by 2021. The Tigers aren’t motivated to move contracts for financial reasons, as their payroll already is roughly 40 percent lower than on Opening Day two years ago.
Instead, the front office is pursuing baseball trades that could strengthen the team’s roster for 2021 and beyond. With Boyd, Greene and Castellanos, general manager Al Avila should have ample proposals to consider in the coming weeks.
Boyd, 28, likely represents the Tigers’ most difficult decision. The left-hander has emerged as an All-Star candidate this year, ranking among the top 10 in the Majors with 105 strikeouts while posting a career-best 3.08 ERA. Boyd also is revered in the organization for his clubhouse leadership and philanthropic work.
Boyd isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season, meaning he could be in Detroit for one or two contending years if the rebuild is completed on schedule. The Tigers also could pursue a multiyear extension with Boyd, a plausible route considering the payroll flexibility the team is set to enjoy in the coming years.
For those reasons, the Tigers would need to be overwhelmed in order to trade Boyd, but that possibility could exist, due to the expected shortage of top-end starting pitchers on the midsummer trade market.
Among teams on the buying bubble, like the surprising Rangers, the controllable Boyd is a more sensible acquisition than Madison Bumgarner, who is eligible for free agency after the season. The Yankees may well prefer Boyd to Bumgarner, too, since Boyd could help them replace the retiring CC Sabathia in next year’s rotation.
Notably, the Yankees have a strong firsthand scouting report on Boyd: He struck out a career-high 13 batters in a win at Yankee Stadium on April 3 this year.
The Phillies, who are searching for both rotation and bullpen upgrades, are a potential suitor for both Boyd and Greene, who is tied for the AL lead with 19 saves. Greene is slated for one more season of salary arbitration eligibility in 2020 before becoming a free agent, which makes him more valuable than relievers on expiring contracts.
Castellanos is perhaps the Tigers’ likeliest trade candidate of all, since he’s due to enter free agency after the season and there’s no evidence of progress on a contract extension for him. Still, the 27-year-old will need to increase his production over the coming month in order to create broader interest in him as a corner-outfield bat. He’s been a league-average hitter this season, by OPS+, while defensive metrics show that he’s improved his range in right field since last season.