General manager Al Avila had a mandate to cut payroll last winter, but when favorable offers for players such as second baseman Ian Kinsler and outfielder J.D. Martinez didn't materialize, Detroit entered the season with a payroll ($199.76 million) that actually exceeded last year's ($198.6 million). Having entered play on Thursday three games back in both the AL Central and wild-card races, the Tigers are not far from a postseason spot, but having vowed to get under the luxury tax threshold for next year—something that's made even harder by the long-term deals of first baseman Miguel Cabrera (eight years and $248 million, through 2023) and pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (five years and $110 million through '20) that push their tax base even higher—the likelihood is that they will become sellers.
Cabrera and ace Justin Verlander aren't going anywhere given their no-trade protection. However, Martinez, a pending free agent who's currently hitting .271/.405/.712, is likely to leave town, and the same goes for Kinsler, who has a dirt-cheap $10 million option (with a $5 million buyout) next year. DH Victor Martinez, making $18 million through next season, could be moved with the team absorbing some salary, and the same goes for struggling closer Francisco Rodriguez and farmed-out righthander Anibal Sanchez if they show any signs of life.