MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Tigers have decisions to make as big sellers

Verlander headlines group in trade market's spotlight

Tigers have decisions to make as big sellers

The White Sox already have dealt away most of their veteran trade candidates. Publicly, the Rangers suggest they may not sell at all.

That leaves the Tigers at the center of the ongoing non-waiver Trade Deadline drama as much as any non-contender, with the possible exception of the A's.

Yes, the Tigers traded J.D. Martinez to the D-backs last week. But four major trade candidates remain on their roster: longtime ace Justin Verlander, left-handed reliever Justin Wilson, second baseman Ian Kinsler and catcher Alex Avila.

MLB Buzz: Trade talk, deals and rumors

The Cubs continue to show interest in both Verlander and Avila, but sources said Tuesday that the Cubs are reluctant to pay Verlander's full $28 million salary in 2018 and '19. Detroit is willing to include money in a Verlander trade; it's not clear how far apart the teams are in their negotiations on financial terms.

The Tigers also remain engaged in discussions with the Brewers about Kinsler and Wilson, sources confirmed, while the Red Sox have continued talks with the Tigers about Wilson.

If anything, Verlander's stock has improved over the past several days. Including Monday's start against the Royals, he has a 2.77 ERA and .653 opponents' OPS over his past four outings. And after placing Clayton Kershaw and Brandon McCarthy on the disabled list on the same day this week, the Dodgers' interest in Verlander has remained consistent.

Verlander's solid outing

The Brewers and Astros also have been linked to Verlander in recent weeks, meaning there's a sufficient marketplace for Detroit to move him. But the organization is mindful of the optics surrounding any such trade.

Team officials are wary of making a trade in which they pay a substantial percentage of Verlander's future salary and/or accept an inferior return because of the large contract. He is a first-round Draft pick of the Tigers and a popular figure in the franchise's renaissance since 2006; fans will be saddened by his departure, but the move will be accepted if it helps general manager Al Avila with an inevitable rebuilding effort.

By contrast, a light return would amplify criticism that began after the Martinez trade, in which Detroit obtained three prospects from Arizona. Rival executives are aware of the pressure the Tigers are under to streamline their Major League payroll while closing the gap between their own farm system and that of the division-rival White Sox. That won't help Detroit's bargaining position, as the baseball industry engages in brinksmanship between now and Monday's 4 p.m. ET Deadline.

Trade ticker
• The Cardinals are emerging as an intriguing seller, and scouts from the Dodgers and Nationals were among those to attend Tuesday's game in St. Louis -- with trade candidate Lance Lynn on the mound.

Lynn allowed only one earned run over six innings. He's a rental pitcher with postseason experience, and both the Dodgers and Nationals have suffered recent rotation injuries.

Lynn strikes out six over six

An Indians scout was in attendance on Tuesday, as well, with right-handed outfield bats the most likely focus. Cleveland pursued Martinez before he was dealt to Arizona, and the Cardinals are expected to listen to offers for Tommy Pham and/or Randal Grichuk in the coming days. Especially after acquiring Tyler O'Neill from the Mariners last week, the Cards have a surplus of outfielders.

• The Orioles are willing to move Zach Britton, but here's their dilemma: In many ways, he's been as dominant as Aroldis Chapman since 2014. And when Chapman was dealt last July -- with a half-season left before free agency -- the Yankees obtained infielder Gleyber Torres, now the No. 3 prospect in the game, according to MLBPipeline.com.

Britton can't be a free agent until after the 2018 season, so Baltimore GM Dan Duquette is justified in asking for a Torres-level prospect, such as Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler or Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker. But it's not clear if either team will meet that price.

Must C: Britton breaks AL record

• The Braves are a buy-and-sell team at this year's Trade Deadline. They traded Jaime Garcia to the Twins but remain involved in the Sonny Gray sweepstakes. Some rival executives also believe Atlanta would move Julio Teheran in the right deal. If the Braves move Teheran, they'd need to receive Major League-ready talent in return, or close to it; Atlanta believes it can compete in 2018.

• Finally, a note unrelated to the Trade Deadline: After hitting two home runs on Tuesday, Rangers slugger Joey Gallo is on pace to hit more than 30 home runs while batting below .200 and posting an OPS above .800. No player in Major League history has done that over a full season.

Jon Paul Morosi is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.