Edson: Young Pitchers Give Tigers Plenty of Hope

Time to reach into the Detroit Tigers mailbag and answer some questions from fans.

Question: What did you think of the Justin Verlander trade to Houston, which you predicted in last week’s column?

Answer: While it was sad to see Verlander leave, it was a solid business move by general manager Al Avila. The Tigers are going nowhere with Verlander, so the trade accomplished two things. It gave the Tigers three good, young players and it gave Verlander a chance to not only win a World Series, but to solidify his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Q: Would you have traded All-Star right-hander Michael Fulmer?

A: Yes, for the right package. That package would have to be two solid prospects who are everyday players. Houston could have been in play for that trade, also.

Q: How long before the Tigers contend again? Some so-called experts are saying 6-8 years.

A: I’m saying they will contend in half that time – three years. The reason is simple. They are finally going to mold their team around their ballpark, which many successful teams do. In spacious Comerica Park, the Tigers would be more successful with solid pitching, defense and speed. They don’t have any of those in abundance right now. What gives me the most hope is their stable of young arms.

Q: Which of these young pitchers do you think will develop into solid contributors for the Tigers?

A: Well, they have a dozen young starting pitchers. If even half of those develop as starters and a couple more as relievers, that would be a big step. On the big league level right now, you have Michael Fullmer, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris. But on the doorstep are bright prospects Franklin Perez (from Houston); Beau Burrows, No. 1 pick Alex Faedo, Kyle Funkhouser and Matt Manning. There are another seven starters a half-notch below them in ability.

Q: What about everyday players?

A: Very soon the Tigers infield will feature Jeimer Candelario (from Cubs) at third to go along with Dawel Lugo (from Arizona) at second. Those two will be the new faces. It will be interesting to see how another trade pickup – 18-year-old Isaac Paredes – develops in the infield. The outfield will feature Nick Castellanos (because we have to stick him somewhere), young Daz Cameron (from the Astros) and our current outfield hopefuls or minor league standouts Mike Gerber, Christian Stewart or Derek Hill. If there is one theme to this young group it is that they play defense. And they have speed.

Q: What role will Miguel Cabrera play in this rebuilding?

A: If he can bounce back from his bad back he hurt this spring, his leadership and solid play could inspire owner Chris Ilitch to go out and sign any missing pieces the Tigers have heading into the 2020 or 2021 season. So Cabrera’s role could be a real key – as a recruiter of talent from other clubs.

Q: So what do Tigers fans do in the meantime?

A: Are you ready for some football?

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.