The Detroit Tigers enter this offseason with very few holes to fill on a roster that came six wins short of a World Series title last year. So what kind of immediate help could our meager roster possibly offer to a team that, according to Tiger GM Dave Dombrowski, could use some small tweaks but does not need to make any major moves?
Many believe that Dombrowski is posturing to save face with his current roster and would be open to trades. Fortunately for the Orioles, the few positions where Detroit would be most likely to try to make an upgrade happen to be the very same positions where Baltimore has veteran players that
do not should not figure into their long term plans. In addition to a strong major league roster, Detroit’s farm system is teeming with talent. They might be willing to part with some of that young talent in an effort to strengthen an MLB roster that is primed to win right now
Offensively, Detroit have been freed from the weight of two monster contracts this offseason, as Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen hit free agency. Most rumors concerning the team this offseason have linked them to Cuban defector and five-tool center fielder Yoenis Cespedes. If the club is going to re-invest the money coming off the books in any FA this offseason, it will most likely be him. This will further solidify an already above average outfield in Detroit, so pawning off an Adam Jones, Luke Scott or Nick Markakis on them is unlikely. 1B, DH, and catcher are stacked with all-stars Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Alex Avila.
The weak spot in the offense lies in the remainder of the infield. Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Inge are both owed $5.5 million in 2012 with a club option for 2013. Jhonny is acceptably adequate at the plate and can play 3B or short, but Exhibit A in the Case for Forcing MLB Players to compete in the Home Run Derby needs to go. Detroit would be well served to trade for Mark Reynolds if they can stomach his defense at third until 3B prospect Nick Castellanos is ready for The Show.
At second, the Tigers currently plan to platoon Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago and should be open to an upgrade. Yahoo muses that "A solid two-way second baseman tops (Detroit’s) wish list, and if one can be found who is a leadoff hitter, that would let manager Jim Leyland slide CF Austin Jackson down to ninth, where Jackson's strikeouts would be less of a problem." Brian Roberts anyone??? If only he didn’t have the same medical team as Justin Morneau and Sidney Crosby. How come football players can get a concussion and be back in one week, and it takes these guys years? Robert Andino is no better than Raburn or Santiago, so unfortunately he is not a sell high option to this particular team.
Detroit is solid at starting pitcher and in the bullpen (not that we could help there anyway). However outside of Cy Young/ MVP/super-duper-stud Justin Verlander they lack stability in the rotation. Youngsters Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello have shown flashes of brilliance but are inconsistent. The Tigers should be looking for a veteran #2/#3 starter who can eat innings, take the pressure off of their young arms, and most importantly keep them in games in October. Enter Jeremy Guthrie. Guts to Detroit is no new concept, and perhaps pulling the trigger last year could have saved their postseason.
What little veteran help the Orioles have to offer seems to fit Detroit’s needs quite well. So what should we ask for in return? The answer is any and all prospects that we can get our hands on. Anyone from this list in exchange for any player that is not part of the O’s plans three or four years from now. This answer seems like a cop out so I will try my best to play the guessing game, and I’m most likely dreaming big. I will assume off the bat that Jacob Turner is untradeable as rumors have dictated, as well as Nick Castellanos since he will fill their biggest offensive hole if he pans out.
The Trade: Mark Reynolds/Jeremy Guthrie for Brandon Inge/Aaron Westlake/Brian Flynn /Brenny Paulino
Two MLB-ready starters for three C+ prospects with upside and a bad contract.
Mark Reynolds could immediately start for Detroit at 3B (hah) and could also sub at 1B and DH on rest days or days that VMart catches. I feel that Reynolds must be traded this year, as he has an $11M option for 2013 that we should absolutely not be considering picking up. The Tigers should be clawing (see what I did there???) at the chance to land Guts, as they thought they could win last year without giving up prospects and their pitching was a little shaky in the playoffs. He plugs into the middle of the rotation immediately.
Aaron Westlake is a power hitting 1B prospect which I can dig, and also plays great D. He is blocked by VMart and Cabrera. Already at 23 years of age (in a few days) he does not figure to stay in the minors until one of those two is off of the team, making him an ideal trade candidate. Brian Flynn is a 21 year old big lefty (6’8, 240) with a low to mid 90s fastball. Paulino is extremely young at 18 years old, and has a mid-90s fastball that could get even better. He lacks other pitches at the moment but has plenty of time to develop them. If he can develop them, he could potentially turn into a good starter. If not, a fireballing Chapman/Feliz-type bullpen guy. We take on a bad contract for a year in Inge ($5.5M in ’12, $500K buyout in ’13), in hopes of acquiring slightly better prospects as a tradeoff. Inge can fill in during 2012… why not? More embarrassing things have happened to this team.
Again, we should truly be trying to trade with this team. And if the proposed trade isn’t the best fit, we would do well to get as many prospects from their deep farm system as we can for whatever veterans on our team they might want.