Detroit Tigers: Time for Dave Dombrowski to Pull His Usual Trade Deadline Magic

With the news that the Detroit Tigers are in fact not going to be sellers, its once again time for general manager Dave Dombrowski to pull is standard trade deadline magic.

The Tigers need the help, and thankfully, Dombrowski is adept at providing it.

Dombrowski has a long history of winning trades. He fleeced the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera, turned Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson into Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson and Phil Coke as well as acquiring Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Wilson (plus a prospect) for Rick Porcello.

While those trades are wonderfully lopsided (at least in the Tigers’ favor), some of the Tigers GM’s best work has come at the trade deadline. He convinced the Mariners into parting with Doug Fister essentially for a singular reliever while acquiring Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for what has amounted to a couple of A-ball pitchers.

However, the most impressive trade on Dombrowski’s resume may have been dealing for David Price. The Tigers dealt Austin Jackson, Drew Smyly and Willy Adames (a top shortstop prospect, but not one that was going to unseat Jose Iglesias as the team’s long-term starter) in order to acquire their current ace.

It’s time for Dombrowski to work that same magic.

There’s probably skepticism in the Tigers adding at the trade deadline. If you made a dollar for every time someone lambasted Detroit’s “lack of a farm system,” you’d have more cash than Bill Gates. Still, Dombrowski acquired Price without surrendering a hoard of top prospects, and did the same with both Fister and Sanchez.

It would not be surprising to see Dombrowski dip into the Tigers’ farm system and deal for talent. The reality is that Detroit’s system isn’t nearly as bad as people think. Two of the team’s top prospects last year (Detroit was again critiqued for having a bad farm system), now rank as two of Baseball America’s top 50 prospects in. Both were traded at the deadline, but it just goes to show that the prospects in the Tigers’ system may get a bad rap.

Additionally, the system has produced notable, young big leaguers such as Devon Travis, Smyly, Avisail Garcia, Eugenio Suarez, Nick Castellanos and James McCann.

Travis is hitting .302 in his rookie year in Toronto. Smyly has been injured a good deal since heading to Tampa Bay, but owns a stellar 1.96 ERA as a member of the Rays. Like Travis, Suarez has been a force at the plate for his new team, hitting .315 with five home runs and 18 RBI in only 35 games. Garcia is a cornerstone player for the White Sox, while Castellanos is finally showing signs of being the hitter the Tigers envisioned when they drafted him. McCann has quickly established himself as one of the premier young backstops in the league, making Alex Avila and his comparatively massive salary expandable.

If anything, the trade for Price, with Adames and Smyly going the other way, has proven that Detroit’s system is underrated. While it is unlikely that consensus top prospect Steven Moya is moved, the team has a glut of minor league catchers and relievers that may interest teams. The Tigers are set behind the plate with McCann and have Bryan Holaday in Triple-A. They could deal Avila, or top catching prospects Grayson Grenier, Shane Zeile or Arvicent Perez. Infield prospect Javier Betancourt (Adames’ former double-play partner) could also be dealt in the right trade given not only Iglesias and Ian Kinsler’s presences, but also the presence of two-way infield prospect Dixon Machado.

Regardless of who is traded, it’s time for Dombrowski to slightly rejig the team in an attempt to claim the World Series. The Tigers have the offense to succeed in October, and can look to their division-rival Royals as an example of a team that (last year) made a second-half run all the way to Game Seven.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

For more Tigers, click here. For more baseball, click here.

Seattle Mariners: Mark Trumbo’s Early (Lack of) Impact

The Seattle Mariners offense is struggling. Despite the offseason addition of Nelson Cruz and the presence of Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, the M’s offense is in a rut. Entering the week, only the White Sox and Phillies had scored fewer runs.

Given all these factors, the addition of Mark Trumbo would seem like the best early Christmas present known to man. Yeah… not so much.

Trumbo’s early impact, or lack thereof, has been staggering considering the slugger’s track record.

The former Angel was a massive hit for his hometown team, averaging 32 home runs, 94 RBI and a .251 average over three full seasons with the Halos. The M’s needed that Trumbo, not the one they acquired. The first baseman/corner outfielder/designated hitter (he basically plays every “power” position on the diamond) had a rough go of things in Arizona. With the Diamondbacks he tallied 23 bombs, 84 RBI and 128 strikeouts in 134 games. Those aren’t that awful numbers, but when you consider the stats were accumulated over the course of two seasons, it encourages pause.

The Mariners certainly gave up some quality pieces to bring a player who once finished second in Rookie of the Year voting and appeared in an All Star game during his first two seasons.

Out went Welington Castro, Dominic Leone and minor league prospects Gabriel Guerrero and Jack Reinheimer.

(It should be noted that reliever/swing man Vidal Nuno made the move north with Trumbo in the transaction, so the M’s upgraded their bullpen to some extent).

Losing Castillo is the most prominent negative here. Yes, Leone had his moments last season in relief, but he struggled this year and Nuno is likely an upgrade over the now-former Mariner.

Seattle’s catching situation is pretty straight forward. Mike Zunino is the starter and Jesus Sucre is the backup. However, Zunino is hitting .158 with a .230 OBP while Sucre is scuffling with the bat. His batting average, OBP and slugging percentage are all .043. He owns the rare distinction having an OPS under .100. Yes, that’s right, Jesus Sucre’s OPS is .087. Yikes.

So why is this being mentioned? Because Welington Castro happens to be a career .251 hitter, who at his best hits somewhere in the .260-.270 neighborhood.

Why he was dealt for a struggling Trumbo is puzzling.

Trumbo put up half-way decent numbers (9 home runs, 23 RBI, .805 OPS) in 46 games in the desert prior to the trade—however, Seattle was already well-stocked in the first-baseman/corner outfielder/designated hitter areas. In fact, they had a log jam on their hands. Logan Morrison was/is entrenched at first base, while the pre-Trumbo corner outfield/DH candidates included Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, Justin Ruggiano and Dustin Ackley. James Jones has also received at-bats in the outfield.

Adding Trumbo to this mix makes sense if the Trumbo in question is the one who suited up for the Angels. However, sacrificing an above-average offensive catcher (Castillo) and two prospects for the Trumbo who suited up for the D-Backs is, in layman’s terms, a bad deal.

Losing Castillo hurts catcher production, while adding Trumbo to a position where there is a surplus only rubs salt in the wound. While Zunino is clearly the starting catcher, he’s struggling with the bat, as is his cover, Sucre. Sacrificing offensively behind the dish is fine trade-off when you acquire pre-Diamondback Mark Trumbo, but sacrificing behind the dish for a player who hit entered the week hitting .179 as a Mariner… well, then you have some problems.

The Mark Trumbo acquisition will be a win for the Mariners if the slugger can regain the form he displayed with the Angels, however if he continues his downward trajectory, the M’s may soon come to regret the trade.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Detroit Tigers: Statistical Impacts of New Additions

  • Yoenis Cespedes

Acquired via: Trade, with Gabe Speier and Alex Wilson for Rick Porcello

Maybe the biggest name brought in by the Tigers this offseason, Cespedes has come out of the gates swinging for Detroit. Entering Friday he was hitting .308 with four doubles, three RBI and a triple in 40 plate appearances. He hit his first home run against Jeff Samardzija on Friday and while his 9-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t pretty, he’ll be a constant threat in a middle-of-the-lineup that also features Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez.

  • Shane Greene

Acquired via: Trade, for Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba

Acquired in a three-team trade with the Yankees and Diamondbacks that also saw the Tigers relinquish prospects Robbie Ray and Domingo Leyba, Greene has been one of, if not the best pitcher for the Tigers (which is saying something considering David Price’s fantastic start to the season).

The 26-year-old has two wins in two starts while allowing a grand total of one run. That run was unearned. The former Yankee has shown great promise, only allowing one walk while lasting eight innings in both starts. His ERA won’t be 0.00 at the end of the season, but it looks like Dave Dombrowski found yet another gem.

  • Anthony Gose

Acquired via: Trade for Deon Travis

Yet another under-the-radar acquisition by Dombrowski, Gose has added a plus defender to the Tigers outfield while showing improved signs with the bat. The former Blue Jay entered the season as a career .234 hitter but has shown flashes of immense promise thanks to a .391 batting average. He’s also contributed two doubles, a triple, a home run, a stolen base and five RBI.

  • Alfredo Simon

Acquired via: Trade for Eugenio Suarez and Johnathon Crawford

Acquired in a trade with Cincinnati for shortstop Eugenio Suarez and relief prospect Johnathon Crawford, Simon has turned in nearly as impressive as a start as his fellow-rotation mate Greene. The former reliever has a sparkling 2.03 ERA over two starts (both wins). He’s struck out five and walked zero batters. There were questions about Simon coming into the season and whether he could replicate the form that made him an All-Star last season, but so far Simon is thriving.

  • Tom Gorzelanny

Acquired via: Free Agency

Signed as a free agent to fill a need in the bullpen, Gorzelanny has been solid in his two appearances, allowing only two hits in 2.2 innings pitched. He has a strikeout and has yet to walk a batter. He’ll get more work as the season progresses, so expect to see more of the former Pirates starter. He posted a 0.86 ERA in 23 appearances for Milwaukee last season.

(RELATED: Should the Tigers Sign Rafael Soriano?)

Continue to check back this season for updates on the newest Tigers and how they’re faring in their first season in Detroit.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

For more Tigers, click here. For more baseball, click here.

Detroit Tigers: Don’t Count the Tigers Out of the Playoffs

Thanks to the Kansas City Royals being reigning American League Champions and the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians making significant improvements in the offseason, the trendy pick is to not pick the Tigers to win their fifth consecutive AL Central crown. Another trendy pick, thanks to a vastly improved Central division, is to leave the Tigers out of the playoffs completely.

This may not be the most prudent of selections.

Everything comes to an end at some point, but do you really think the Tigers are going to let an unprecedented fifth straight division title slip away? Granted there have been some close calls in the past, but this year’s team has the mental advantage of having something to prove. Manager Brad Ausmus was still ticked that they got swept in January and says the team can be “successful and widely respected” and “still have that proverbial chip on its shoulder.”

So there’s the fact that they got swept in the first round as a rallying point after making three straight American League Championship Series. That run included a trip to the World Series and another October dream that came up just short thanks to other-worldly, clutch hitting from the Boston Red Sox. There’s also some of the whole “everyone says were through” business floating around as well.

The Tigers may be the best team not to win a World Series in the last decade. Since 2006, the Tigers have won at least 86 games every season with the exception of anomalies in 2008 and 2010. One of those seasons’ high draft pick that came as a result of a poor record netted the team Jacob Turner, who was used as the centerpiece of the Anibal Sanchez trade. Sanchez is one of the Tigers’ best pitchers and one of the most underrated hurlers in the league. He’s been one of the catalysts of Detroit’s recent success.

(RELATED: My ancient reaction “column” on the Sanchez/Omar Infante Trade).

Detroit’s baseball team wants a World Series title, leaving them out of playoff predictions is foolish. Obviously the predictions don’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but the point is you shouldn’t be counting out the Tigers.

Detroit’s main competition for the division crown will come from Kansas City, Chicago and Cleveland. I’m sorry Minnesota, but even before being obliterated over the first two games of the season, you weren’t close to the pack.

The Royals essentially replaced James Shields, Nori Aoki and Billy Butler with Edinson Volquez, Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales. That’s secret code for a step down. Kansas City still has a good defense and bullpen, but they won’t be the same team. The fact that the Royals only managed six wins in 18 games against the Tigers doesn’t bode well for KC’s chances.

Chicago added some exciting pieces over the offseason in Melky Cabrera, Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Zach Duke and Adam LaRoche. Add those to a core that features Chris Sale and Jose Abreu and you have the makings of a playoff team—however the team was swept by Kansas City to start the year and lost the series by a cumulative score of 21-6.

It’s still extremely early, but the White Sox are going take time to mesh. Given how competitive the Central is, they may be too far behind once they mesh to make a run at the division title. It would surprise no one if the Sox made the playoffs, but right now they aren’t the well-oiled machine that Detroit, Kansas City or even Cleveland is.

Speaking of Cleveland, the Indians added Brandon Moss to fill a need offensively. Cleveland essentially swapped out Jason Giambi for Moss. This trade off will help the team, but the Indians have holes just like everyone else. Shortstop Jose Ramirez isn’t exactly a world-beater offensively while the Tribe’s outfield is hit and miss. Michael Brantly was an All Star last season, but outside of him there are definite question marks.

Michael Bourn arrived in Cleveland as a career .272 hitter who averaged 39 stolen bases a season. His best season came in 2011 when he hit .294 with 61 stolen bases for Houston and Atlanta. From 2009 to 2011 the speedster averaged 58 swipes a season. Last season Bourn led the league in triples with 10, but hit .257, drove in a measly 28 runs and posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 114/32. He only stole 10 bases.  

Bourn isn’t alone in the outfield in terms of seeing his numbers dip upon arrival in Ohio. David Murphy was able to rebound from a down season in Texas during his first year with the Indians, but was unable to replicate the success he’d found earlier in his career when he hit .283 from 2008 to 2012. He averaged 14 home runs and 61 runs driven in per season over that span while swiping 10 bags a season. Murphy only managed 8 bombs, 58 RBI and a .262 average last season.

Like Bourn, Nick Swisher entered the Tribe as a quality hitter. He hit .272 in his last season in New York and made the All Star team in 2010 with a .288 batting average. In his first season in Cleveland (2013), Swisher hit .246. His RBI numbers went from 93 in his last season with the Yankees to 63 in his first season with the Indians. That’s right, his RBI total dropped by thirty. Swisher struggled mightily in 2014, posting a mere 8 home runs and 42 RBI. He was limited to only 97 games, but he only hit .208 and posted an ugly 111/36 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Cleveland’s other two outfielders, Ryan Raburn and Mike Aviles, hit .200 and .247 respectively last season.

The heart of the Indians’ order (Brantly, Yan Gomes, Moss and Carlos Santana) can holds its own against most teams, but the Tribe will need other positions to step up offensively if they’re going to seriously contend. Based on the outfield’s struggles last season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cleveland fall short again.

Counting the Tigers out of playoffs probably isn’t a smart thing to do. Kansas City isn’t what they once were while the White Sox have yet to mesh and the Tribe have holes on offense. Expect another American League Central Title and another playoff berth for the Tigers this season. Did I mention they haven’t allowed an earned run yet this season?

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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NBA Trade Deadline Losers: Minnesota Timberwolves

Meet another one of the NBA’s most puzzling teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves!

While Denver actually moved some pieces for future assets, Minnesota did not. In fact, they dealt a younger player with the potential to bring in a somewhat sizable return (Thaddeus Young) to the Nets for Kevin Garnett.

While I like the team dealing for Garnett in terms of what he brings to the team, Young was too much of a valued commodity to ship out for an aging veteran. Granted Garnett can still contribute, plus, he’ll fill seats and will be a mentor to Minnesota’s young players. Still, Young was too much of an asset to give up for KG.

That wasn’t Minnesota’s only trade activity this season, they also traded Mo Williams and Troy Daniels to Charlotte for Gary Neal and a second-round pick in 2019. While dealing Williams was the right move, dealing him and a young player for Neal and a second-round pick in four years is puzzling. Neal is on an expiring contract and is still with the team, meaning they didn’t trade him for more assets.

Including Neal, here is a list of veteran players Minnesota should have traded, but didn’t.

  • Nikola Pekovic,
  • Kevin Martin
  • Chase Budinger
  • Neal

You could also make the case for Ricky Rubio being dealt, but at only 24-years-old, he may yet be part of the Timberwolves next contending team (while still in his prime).

The fact of the matter is that the Wolves need to create more minutes for their younger players. This means guys like Zach LaVine, Adreian Payne, Anthony Bennett, Glenn Robinson III and Gorgui Dieng should all be playing a high number of minutes similar to Andrew Wiggins. However, with players like Pekovic, Martin, Budinger and Neal on the roster, it becomes difficult. The easiest way to give the youngsters more minutes is to simply take the veterans off the roster. The T-Wolves should have done this at the deadline. If they did, maybe they would have gotten some decent returns to help build for the future and hoard even more assets.

Considering Aaron Afflalo and Isaiah Thomas both fetched first-round picks for their old clubs, one would think Kevin Martin could have received a similar return. Pekovic’s contract probably scared some teams away, but at 29-years-old, he’s a dependable center who can score and rebound. Budinger and Neal could have provided interested teams with wing depth and experience.

Minnesota needs to give more minutes to younger players, while stockpiling assets for the future. This is the easiest path towards evolving into a legitimate contender. The only thing standing in the way of both of those objectives? Dealing veteran players. The Timberwolves should have, but simply didn’t do this, making them one of the “losers” of the trade deadline.

Check out the rest of Know Hitter’s series on the NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers. The Winners: BostonDetroitMiamiPhiladelphia and Milwaukee. The “Losers”: Los Angeles (Lakers)Phoenix , Denver and Minnesota.

NBA Trade Deadline Losers: Phoenix Suns

After compiling 48 wins last season, the Suns brought in Isaiah Thomas to augment current guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe. With Bledsoe the only member of the trio still on the roster, it’s safe to say that the Phoenix Suns destroyed their point guard situation.

Phoenix shipped Dragic to the Heat and Thomas to Boston.

What was there return for two point guards capable of scoring 20 points per game? Brandon Knight, Marcus Thornton and some picks.

Both transactions also saw the Suns acquire John Salmons, Kendall Marshall and Danny Granger. However, Salmons and Marshall were both waived, and Granger could still be bought out.

Phoenix did acquire first round picks in 2016, 2017 and 2021, but the cost to acquire those picks was high. The 2016 pick is Cleveland’s and will likely be somewhere in the 20’s. Miami’s pick in 2017 could be in the 20’s as well, if not the late teens. 2021 is the lottery ticket. If the Heat are dreadful at that point, it’ll be a nice consolation prize, albeit an extremely late one.

The Suns also lost recent first-round pick Tyler Ennis in the trade (who also happens to be a point guard), an out-of-favor, but still young and useful center in Miles Plumlee.

Dragic was likely to depart via free agency over the offseason, so maybe the Suns did well to move on from him, but the return they received isn’t exactly outstanding considering what Reggie Jackson was moved for and Dragic’s talent in general.

The return for Thomas is another move that benefits the other team in the trade more than Phoenix. Thomas may not have been a perfect fit with the Suns’ other pieces, but a pick in the mid-to-late 20’s and the expiring contract of Marcus Thornton isn’t exactly anything to write home about—especially considering Thomas’ offensive capability.

The addition of Brandon Knight will help the Suns recover, but they just simply gave up more assets than they acquired.

Check out Know Hitter’s series on the NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers. The Winners: Boston, Detroit, Miami, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. The “Losers”: Los Angeles (Lakers), Phoenix and coming soon—Minnesota and Denver.

All stats courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

NBA Trade Deadline Winners: Detroit Pistons

Winner: Detroit Pistons

While some trade deadline deals are made with only the current season in mind (rentals!), this year’s deadline featured many players (Michael Carter-Williams, Enes Kanter and Isaiah Thomas) who’ll be integral parts of their new team’s future for many years to come.

The Pistons pulled off a similar coup by bringing in Reggie Jackson.

The price for Jackson, a potential cornerstone of the franchise, was relatively little. D.J. Augustin was playing lights out in place of Brandon Jennings before the trade, but the Pistons obviously felt that Jackson was the better fit. The only other player Detroit relinquished was Kyle Singler, who developed into a solid role player, but wasn’t going to light the world on fire. The Pistons also traded away second round picks in 2017 and 2019.

Detroit is clearly banking on Jackson flourishing after playing in the shadows of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook a la James Harden. Jackson may not develop into a player who’ll lead the league in scoring like Hardin, but he has the potential to shine in Motown.

In addition to Jackson, the team brought in old friend Tayshaun Prince to replace Singler on the wing. Detroit gave up two surplus forwards in Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome to facilitate the move.

The Pistons made a huge improvement to their team, bringing in Jackson as the replacement for the injured Jennings. Should the team re-sign him this offseason, in addition to Greg Monroe, the Pistons will have a solid foundation to build upon with Andre Drummond, Jackson, Monroe, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Spencer Dinwiddie. The team will improve even more next season if Jennings can return healthy, or if the team can flip their old point guard for even more pieces.

Check out the rest of Know Hitter’s trade deadline “winners,” Philadelphia, Miami, Milwaukee and Boston. Stay tuned for the “losers” (Hint: there may be a mention of the Lakers). You can find more NBA coverage from Know Hitter here.

NBA Trade Deadline Winner: Boston Celtics

Winner: Boston Celtics

Like Philadelphia and Houston, the Boston Celtics were particularly active at the NBA Trade Deadline, taking advantage of Phoenix’ point guard mess by stealing Isaiah Thomas. They also moved Tayshaun Prince back to Detroit for Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome.

Boston’s backcourt was already in good hands defensively with Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. Adding Thomas for relatively little in return will help the unit offensively. Similar to fellow Washingtonians Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson, Thomas provides instant offense. In five games with Boston he’s scored 21.8 points per contest. This is nothing new for the Tacoma native, who averaged 20.3 points per game in Sacramento last season.

A backcourt rotation of Thomas, fellow Tacoma native Bradley and Smart is a pretty solid foundation for the future (all are 26-years-old or younger) and the present.

What did Boston mortgage to acquire Thomas? Cleveland’s 2016 first-round pick and Marcus Thornton.

The Cavs’ pick is top-ten protected and will likely fall at the end of the first round should the Cavs continue to evolve into the championship contender everyone thinks they will. Thornton is a useful bench scorer, but his contract expires after the season, and he likely wasn’t part of the long-term outlook in Boston anyway.

Adding a long-term piece in Thomas for an expiring contract and a first-round pick likely in the late 20’s make this an easy win for the Celtics.

In addition to Thomas, the team also brought in Jerebko and Datome. Both have expiring contracts and will be auditioning to see if it’s worth Boston’s time to keep them beyond this season. At his best, Jerebko is a floor-spacing power forward who can rebound while Datome is a three-point marksman.

You can read more of Know Hitter’s coverage of the NBA here. For more Trade Deadline coverage, check out the site’s other “winners”, Miami, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

All stats courtesy of http://www.basketball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

Detroit Tigers: Center Field Alternatives After Missing Out on Rusney Castillo

Regardless of how far the Detroit Tigers came in their pursuit of Cuban prospect Rusney Castillo, they missed out on adding the highly regarded center fielder. Castillo is heading to Boston. With Austin Jackson shipped out as part of the David Price trade, the Tigers are in need of a center fielder, if they don’t go after one to help their postseason run, then they will almost surely try to acquire one in the offseason. Here are some options.

Options for Right Now

The Internal Guys: Rajai Davis and Ezequiel Carrera

Detroit got spoiled by Austin Jackson—a superb fielding, centrally based outfielder who hit for some pop. Sure, he struck out a ton, but at least he contributed in other categories. The Tigers now face reality without their once-longtime center fielder. Any disapproval of his replacements’ play has been answered with the question “Well, would you rather have David Price or not have David Price?” and while’s it’s fantastic to have Price, the team could use a center fielder. I’m not saying the trade shouldn’t have happened, but Detroit need a center fielder, and his name isn’t Rajai Davis or Ezequiel Carrera. Both can cover miles of ground, but aren’t close to the defensive player that Jackson was for the Tigers.

Davis has filled in admirably in center, but his best position remains in left field. This gives Brad Ausmus flexibility in picking his lineup—flexibility that Detroit has relied on and will need to continue to rely on.

While Carrera isn’t as strong defensively as Jackson, he isn’t good offensively as Jackson or Davis. Yes, he brings speed, but his hitting hasn’t been on par with the rest of the lineup. A .220 hitting center fielder with speed might play on a young team auditioning players, but on a team with championship aspirations like the Tigers, it simply isn’t good enough.

In 24 games, Carrera has a total of three extra base hits—two doubles and a triple. Jackson accumulated four extra base hits alone over the course of three games against Diamondbacks.

*Note: I probably wouldn’t be writing this piece if the Tigers were still in first place in the division, but new additions or better play is needed to pass the Royals. It’s also nearing panic mode in “Tigerland.”

The Current Trade Market: Various

With the non-waiver trade deadline come and gone, players must now pass through waivers before being dealt. The bad teams get first crack at players, so because of that and other factors, it’s unlikely that a player would fall through the cracks. However a number of players have passed through waivers with no teams claiming them, and are available to be dealt anywhere. According to MLB Trade Rumors, these players include outfielders such as Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rios, Matt Kemp, Brett Gardner, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Each is a unique player, but all of them have one thing in common—they’re owed a lot of money.

In addition to being owed a collective 164 million dollars over the next six years, Choo and Granderson just signed deals with their respective teams this offseason. It would look bad for future free agents assessing their options to see that a team traded a player just months after signing him to a long contract. Choo has also played exclusively in both left and right field this year while Granderson has predominantly played right. Granderson has extensive experience in center; just ask any long-term Tigers’ fan, but his salary makes it hard to justify a reunion.

Rios falls in a similar boat defensively seeing as he hasn’t played centerfield since 2011. Plus, he’ll be 34 at this time next year and doesn’t have the power he once possessed.

The Dodgers’ trio of representatives on the list are harder to quantify trading. They aren’t exactly hitting the cover off the ball with batting averages of .247 (Ethier) .271 (Crawford) and .277 (Kemp). Ethier has played center field this year, but his batting line and hefty contract make a move unlikely. Crawford, on the other hand, isn’t a centerfielder. He never played the position extensively, as evidenced by the last time he was in center field—seven innings of a game six years ago while he was with the Rays.

Kemp may be the closest thing to a “goldilocks” fit. Not only does he play center (he’s won two Gold Gloves there), but if he can get his production near where it was during his accolade filled year of 2011, the Tigers would have another elite bat to hit in a lineup that features a handful of them. The red flag is that Kemp hasn’t played a full season since 2011 and is owed north of 100 million dollars over the next five seasons.

The Dodgers are also in the thick of a pennant race of their own, and with Yasiel Puig as the only other starting caliber outfielder on the team, it seems unlikely that LA would part with any of their three contractual albatrosses.

Finally, there’s Gardner. From a skillset standpoint, the Yankee outfielder would fit perfectly in Detroit. He has played 333 games in center field over the course of his career. He is a threat on the base baths with 179 steals over nearly 750 games—and, to top it all off, he hits for power. Albeit power closer to that of Rajai Davis as opposed to Miguel Cabrera, but it would be an upgrade. But similar to Kemp, Gardner’s contract calls for a lot of money. The Yankee outfielder is owed close to 50 million over the next four years, not including a 12.5 million team option for 2019. The money and the fact that the Yankees trail Detroit in the wild card standings may make a trade near impossible.

Splurging cash on one of these previously mentioned outfielders would seem counterproductive—especially after trading Prince Fielder and Doug Fister in cost-cutting moves. It would also seem odd considering the team will likely hand one/both of David Price and Max Scherzer a massive contract extension.

It’s unclear what Dave Dombrowski will do with the Tigers center field situation. Maybe Rajai Davis will prove he can play there full time. Maybe Ezequiel Carrera will hit. Who knows. But reinforcements via trade or Cuba are unlikely this season. If nothing is done, expect the Tigers’ GM to make a move for a center fielder this winter.

 

All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.

 

MLB Trade Rumors: The Tigers and Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp at his best is a near flawless player. An athletic and talented center fielder, he combines that with the ability to hit for average, serious power and tremendous base running /speed to make for a potent threat. Put it this way, Kemp at his best would challenge Mike Trout for the “best five tool player” award.

Everyone is aware of what Kemp can do. He put in a wonderful season in 2011 when he posted a .324 batting average, 39 home runs, 126 RBI and 40 stolen bases. Kemp not only led the league in the two traditional run scoring stats, homers and RBI, but he also led the league in runs scored, OPS+ and total bases. Also on his resume that year? A Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Wow this guy is excessively driving in the point of how good Matt Kemp is,” then we’re on the same page. Matt Kemp is good. Really good.

So why are the Dodgers considering trading someone who, when healthy, rivals Mike Trout?

This is why. Here’s a comparison of Kemp’s accolade-filled 2011 stat line compared to that of the last two years.

Matt Kemp 2011: 161 games played, 115 runs scored, 195 hits, 33 doubles, 39 homeruns, 126 RBI, 40 stolen bases, .324 batting average, 353 total bases.

Matt Kemp 2012 & 2013: 179 games played, 109 runs scored, 193 hits, 37 doubles, 29 homeruns, 102 RBI, 18 stolen bases, .290 batting average, 321 total bases.

The current Dodger’s injury form and the emergence of Yasiel Puig have doomed Kemp to expendability. Maybe not Puig by himself, but the general immovability of Carol Crawford’s contract means one or both Kemp and Andre Either must go. After all, you can’t play four outfielders in the National League.

The Dodgers, as with many contending teams, have very specific needs. Their only legitimate needs are at third base and possibly insurance at second base. The Tigers current third baseman is Nick Castellanos. Unless the Angels offer Mike Trout or Washington calls with an offer of Stephen Strasburg and/or Bryce Harper, you don’t trade the former top-prospect if you’re Detroit.

Los Angeles was reported to be willing to eat money to facilitate a Kemp trade. Theoretically, a trade similar to that of the Prince Fielder trade could work. LA would acquire Ian Kinsler to provide insurance at second base as well as playing third. However, even if the Dodgers ate significant money, Detroit would likely be taking back major salary in the trade. Something that would go against the previous Fielder trade as well as the Doug Fister trade.

If you take salary out of the equation, a package centered around Austin Jackson could get the deal done, but who else would be in that package is beyond me. The Tigers don’t have the equivalent of a massive, expiring contract in the NBA that they can shop. They simply don’t have a big contract to shop.

Dave Dombrowski’s reshaping of the team has been extremely cost cutting. He’s expunged the hefty, collective contracts of players such as Fielder, Fister and Jhonny Peralta and has replaced them with younger, cheaper players that still make the team legitimate contenders. The cost-cutting has gone so far that somewhat-expensive role players such as Jose Veras, Ramon Santiago and Brayan Pena have been replaced with even cheaper options like Ian Krol, Steven Lombardozzi and Bryan Holaday.

Acquiring Kemp would undo almost all of the work he’s done to get the team to its current state.

Detroit has reportedly been in contact with the Dodgers about the two-time All-Star, which given everything that I just stated makes a potential move curious. It may have just been tire kicking at its best, but if the talks were serious the Tigers would probably ask for the Dodgers to eat a lot of money. Like a lot in italics a lot.

The Dodgers reportedly now plan to keep Kemp, but should the Tigers remain interested there could be trouble.

Unless Los Angeles nearly gives him away from a salary standpoint, Kemp is going to occupy a large portion of Detroit’s salary going forward. This is all and well if the Tigers are able to sign Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer to long-term contracts, but if Kemp’s salary stands in the way of that, then Dave Dombrowski should stay away.

Kemp is going to bounce back and be a fantastic player, but he isn’t worth the risk of losing Miguel Cabrera and or Max Scherzer.

 

All stats courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ unless otherwise noted.