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Tigers' trade watch to go right up to Deadline

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers' trade watch is expected to go down to the final hours before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. It is not expected to include many of the big names that have been speculated on Detroit's roster over the last several weeks.

The Tigers' starting lineup Sunday did not have Ian Kinsler or Alex Avila in it, but they were getting days off, not farewell hugs. Justin Verlander made his start Sunday as scheduled, the latest sign he's likely staying put, and Justin Wilson was on watch for a ninth-inning lead rather than a phone call.

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DETROIT -- The Tigers' trade watch is expected to go down to the final hours before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. It is not expected to include many of the big names that have been speculated on Detroit's roster over the last several weeks.

The Tigers' starting lineup Sunday did not have Ian Kinsler or Alex Avila in it, but they were getting days off, not farewell hugs. Justin Verlander made his start Sunday as scheduled, the latest sign he's likely staying put, and Justin Wilson was on watch for a ninth-inning lead rather than a phone call.

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"I'll be honest with you -- I don't expect anything to happen today," said manager Brad Ausmus, expressing a sentiment that others echoed. "It could, but I don't expect it."

Wilson remains the most likely Tiger to be dealt, but the lefty relief market is shaping up as a game of chicken leading up to the Deadline, with Wilson, Baltimore closer Zach Britton and San Diego's Brad Hand bunched together. While interested teams try to hold on to valued prospects, the Tigers hold out for the kind of deal that can help restock their system.

Teams linked to Wilson in recent days include the Nationals, Rockies, Rays, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Brewers, Astros, Indians and Yankees. The Nationals' system is particularly intriguing; 12 of Washington's top 15 prospects in MLBPipeline.com's rankings are position players, including five outfielders in the top 11.

Wilson is under team control through next season, giving Detroit some leverage in negotiations. While there have been no threats from the Tigers to hold on to Wilson and wait until the offseason, it's an option. Yet with the Tigers out of contention and save opportunities potentially limited if they struggle down the stretch, there's no guarantee Wilson will hold the same value this coming winter that he has now.

Avila, meanwhile, has gone from a likely trade piece to something of a question mark as teams like the Cubs and Rockies reportedly survey the market for left-handed-hitting backstops. Avila entered Sunday 8-for-59 with no extra-base hits and 26 strikeouts since June 29, raising fears -- despite Avila remaining healthy -- that an uptick in playing time has come at a price.

Video: KC@DET: Avila singles home two with the bases loaded

The fact that Verlander pitched Sunday likely assured, barring an unexpected move by a contending team, that he'll remain a Tiger past Monday's non-waiver Deadline. The fact that Verlander would have to approve any trade, and the Commissioner's office must approve any deal that includes a large amount of cash changing hands to cover a player's salary, all but requires the framework of a deal be in place ahead of time. If there was any framework, Verlander wouldn't have started Sunday.

That said, Monday's Deadline has little bearing on his market. Players can still be traded in August; they just have to clear waivers beforehand. Any team that would claim him would risk inheriting the remainder of Verlander's salary this year plus the rest of his contract, which guarantees him $28 million in each of the next two seasons.

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

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