Should the Detroit Tigers trade Tarik Skubal or extend him with Riley Greene? (2024)

Jeff SeidelDetroit Free Press

Should the Detroit Tigers trade Tarik Skubal or extend him with Riley Greene? (1)

Should the Detroit Tigers trade Tarik Skubal or extend him with Riley Greene? (2)

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One day after Riley Greene and Tarik Skubal were named All-Stars for the first time in their careers.

At a time when both these guys were still glowing with excitement, while trying to figure out how they were gonna get their families to the game.

Detroit Tigers fans on sports talk radio in the city were locked in debate about the future: Should the Tigers trade Skubal or extend him? And should they extend Greene?

So I asked Skubal how this kind of talk and speculation affects him.

“It's a part of the sport and business that I have no say in, so I don't think you can really let it get to you,” Skubal said, sitting at his locker Monday afternoon. “If you let that stuff get in your brain, you're gonna make the game bigger than it needs to be, or shift your focus away from what it should be.”

To me, that sounds like the perfect answer. The perfect way to handle this.

But still, the talk is out there on social media and sport talk radio.

The Skubal debate is interesting with all kinds of layers and ramifications. It’s hard to imagine his trade value will be higher than it is right now. He is a fantastic pitcher — a legit American League Cy Young Award candidate — and under team control for two more seasons after this one.

Some will argue: That’s the freakin’ point! The Tigers are nowhere near a championship level. Trade him now when his value is high!

I have to say, there is a certain logic in that argument because the Tigers desperately need more hitters. Desperately need more talent, outside of Skubal and Greene. They are nowhere near winning a championship.

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Others will say: Skubal is the kind of guy you need to get to a championship level. Why in the world would you get rid of him? This is the guy you build around, not flip for prospects.

Which is an understandable, reasonable reaction, as well.

Skubal is ridiculously talented, fiercely competitive and determined to improve. He’s got some serious bulldog mentality that I love.

And that has people saying this: Simply extend him. Come on Chris Ilitch, crack open the vault and lock him up long-term.

But that’s simplifying it too much.

It takes two sides to make a deal and you have to consider something important: Skubal is represented by Scott Boras, who has a history of squeezing top dollar out of teams, no matter the circ*mstances.

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Think Gerrit Cole, who Boras got a nine-year, $324 million deal when he was 29.

Skubal will turn 28 in November.

What will the market be two years from now if Skubal is healthy and hits free agency as a Cy Young-level lefty who can touch 100 mph?


Skubal is going to command massive, multi-generation-changing money.

But that brings us to another argument from the fans: This team desperately needs hitters. If you can trade Skubal now and get multiple everyday players and several prospects to recharge this rebuild, you do it.

Considering the state of the offense, which has several significant holes and only a few core players, it’s hard to argue with that point.

Look at how the Matthew Stafford trade became the catalyst for flipping the Detroit Lions into a legitimate playoff team.

Although, obviously, football is different, with much shorter rebuild and contention windows.

“Anyone can have their own opinion, whether it's factual or has any merit, whatever,” Skubal said. “It's not going to impact me. It's part of the game.”

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It's not just Skubal who's about to get paid

Now, a word here about Greene.

On Monday, a reporter asked Greene about signing a long-term extension.

“You don't really think about it,” Greene said. “My motto is just live day-to-day.”

First things first, I don’t think there is any chance in Hell, Michigan, that Greene gets traded at this deadline.

He is exactly what this team needs more than anything else. He’s just 23 years old. He can hit. He can play D. He’s improving. And he is at the core of this rebuild, along with Colt Keith and Kerry Carpenter.

So, yes, they should extend Greene at some point.

A strange tidbit: Right now, Keith, with all of 80 big-league games, is making $2.8 million — more than three times as much as Greene ($766,000).

And yes, that will change soon enough.

But Skubal?

If some team offers a king’s ransom — several MLB hitters and multiple elite prospects — you have to at least listen to it. It would be negligent if Scott Harris, the Tigers' president of baseball operations, didn’t at least consider it.

But to trade him for a few prospects?

Like most of the trades this organization has done over the last five years, even before the current regime got here?

Get real.

No way.

There is also a certain degree of unlikeliness to this. The only teams that would want Skubal are teams fighting for the playoffs, and how many of them have talented MLB hitters that they are willing to give up in a pennant chase?

So, if it happens, trading Skubal over the winter seems more likely.

But still, the clock is ticking.

If the Tigers do decide to trade him, the longer they wait, the less they will get.

If they are unable to extend him and wait 1½ years from now and he turns into a potential rental player for some team, the return will be even smaller. That’s the worst-case scenario.

Finally, here's one last thought.

There's an old saying in pro sports: What a team does tells us more than what it actually says, and how the Tigers handle both of these players will be revealing. If the Tigers extend Skubal, it will say they believe this rebuild is on track and winning days are ahead soon. If they trade him? It will be a glaring admission that they believe this team is years away.

Either way, it's gonna be telling.

But Skubal doesn’t seemed fazed by any of this.

On Monday afternoon, he was more worried about getting his family to the MLB All-Star Game next week in Arlington, Texas.

“In ’22, this happened,” Skubal said, referencing trade rumors during the Tigers' previous swoon. “There was a big article that was posted on me. So it's like, you can't let that stuff get to you.”

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To me, that seems like the healthy approach.

Go out and play.

The business side will take care of itself.

Even if that’s what some fans talk about seemingly every day.

Contact Jeff Seidel:jseidel@freepress.comor follow him@seideljeff.

Should the Detroit Tigers trade Tarik Skubal or extend him with Riley Greene? (2024)
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