Early in the season, left-hander Tarik Skubal was perhaps the Tigers’ biggest bright spot, producing a 2.33 ERA in his first 11 starts. He then went through a rough patch for five outings before recovering in his most recent three. Yet, even with several of the Tigers’ other young starters on the injured list, the team is willing to trade him, according to rival executives with multiple clubs.
The Tigers “gave us a blanket that just about everyone is available,” one official said. Another speculated the Tigers are trying to be opportunistic and extract a big return for Skubal from teams that might strike out on the Reds’ Luis Castillo and the Athletics’ Frankie Montas, the best starting pitchers known to be available.
Tigers general manager Al Avila declined comment.
It is hardly a given the Tigers would trade Skubal, considering their own rotation needs as they head toward their sixth straight losing season. But like many teams, they are willing to consider any deal that might help them improve. And they entered Tuesday averaging a major-league low 3.22 runs per game.
The Dodgers, Cardinals and other contenders are not the only teams in the market for starting pitching. Postseason longshots such as the Rangers and Orioles want to add rotation help for 2023 and beyond. The Tigers, thin on everyday position players, could use Skubal and several of their relievers as a vehicle to acquire more talent.
Castillo and Montas, both 29, are under club control through 2023. Skubal, 25, is a year-plus away from qualifying for salary arbitration, and under club control through 2026. And at various points in the future, the Tigers expect their injured young starters — Beau Brieske (arm soreness), Alex Faedo (hip), Matt Manning (shoulder inflammation), and Casey Mize and Spencer Turnbull (both Tommy John surgery) — to return.
If the Tigers do not receive an offer they deem acceptable for Skubal, they still can move several relievers — Andrew Chafin, Michael Fulmer, Joe Jiménez and two-time All-Star closer Gregory Soto. None of their position players would figure to bring a strong return.
The Athletic‘s Cody Stavenhagen contributed to this story.
(Picture: Jay Biggerstaff/USA Today Sports)