True to form, Chicago White Sox receive maximum value for Jose Quintana

The Chicago White Sox front office is putting on a masterclass on how to rebuild a franchise.

Saddled with a 78-84 record, a -29 run differential and a lineup that featured just regular under 25 (23-year-old Tim Anderson), Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn embarked on a long-term reboot.

They started by flipping veterans Chris Sale and Adam Eaton in the offseason.

Both players brought in significant hauls, netting the Sox a potential middle-of-the-order cornerstone in Yoan Moncada, a pitcher with frontline upside in Michael Kopech as well as two intriguing prospects in Luis Alexander Basabe, an outfielder, and Victor Diaz, a right-handed pitcher.

Those players were all acquired in the Sale in a haul that frankly wasn’t that surprising.

Sale is the definition of elite, having registered a WAR of at least 4.7 in each of his six full seasons in the rotation.

He also owns a 10.34 punch outs-per-nine rate to go along with a sparkling 2.96 lifetime FIP.

Getting a package of prospects including Moncada and Kopech for Sale wasn’t surprising.

What was surprising is how Williams and Hahn flipped outfielder Adam Eaton for a pair of potential aces in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez—not to mention Dane Dunning, the 29th-overall pick in 2016.

Eaton is undoubtedly a quality player. He notched a 6.0 WAR in 2016, and has posted a wRC+ north of 117 from 2014 to 2016. However, the veteran hasn’t ever posted an OPS north of .800 in his career, and has had some sky-high BABIP numbers dating back to his first season in Chicago.

From 2014 to 2016, Eaton checked in with BABIPs of .359, .345 and .329.

Williams and Hahn undoubtedly got full value for Sale and perhaps more than full value for Eaton. The White Sox have seemingly done so again with Jose Quintana.

With Sale logging his home games in Massachusetts, Quintana took over as the team’s resident ace.

Quintana was ace-like before Sale left, but he began the year as Chicago’s top starter. He was also the most likely of a host of veterans who were conceivable trade targets.

The list also includes Todd Frazier, David Robertson, Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Dan Jennings, Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle, James Shields and Derek Holland.

However, Quintana stood out thanks to his excellent track record.

Since entering the Majors in 2012, the 28-year-old has notched a cumulative 21.7 WAR to go with a 3.51 ERA and a 3.52 FIP. His xFIP sits at just 3.82.

The Chicago Cubs announced on Twitter in a tweet that the team acquired Quintana from the cross-town White Sox for four prospects.

The Cubs tweeted the following:

In return for Quintana, Williams and Hahn brought in outfielder Eloy Jimenez, right-hander Dylan Cease and infielders Matt Rose and Bryant Flete.

The team have added another potentially dangerous middle-of-the-order thumper to pair with Moncada.

Add Cease to a future rotation that could consist of some combination of Kopech, Giolito, Lopez, Carlos Rodan and 2015 eighth-overall pick Carson Fulmer and the Sox have the makings of a dangerous team down the road.

This is all without mentioning outfielder Luis Robert and catcher Zack Collins, who MLB.com rank as the team’s fourth and ninth best prospects respectively.

The same publication has Robert at #23 and Collins at #68 in their ranking of baseball’s top 100 prospects.

For reference, Cease is 63rd, Fulmer is 59th, Lopez is 36th, Giolito is 28th, Kopech is 11th, Jimenez is eighth and Moncada is first.

Baseball America’s recent prospect rankings also featured Moncada sitting atop the list, with the likes of Jimenez (fifth), Kopech (20th), Robert (45th) and Lopez (59th) in the top 60.

It is all without mentioning whatever prospects Williams and Hahn are able to snag for vets like Frazier, Robertson, Abreu, Melky Cabrera and Jennings.

If the team’s past deals are any indication, the White Sox will probably be getting quality value in return.

Prospects aren’t always guaranteed to pan out—just ask the Marlins about the haul of players they received for Miguel Cabrera—however, Chicago looks to be building a team with the ability to be a juggernaut in the future.

Yeah, that’s right, forget rebuilding for a bright future, these White Sox could be a force to be reckoned with if everything clicks.

Detroit Tigers: One of the Tweets of the Year

Nothing like taking Jon Lester deep for your first career hit!

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Detroit Tigers Lineup vs the Chicago Cubs 8/18/15

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The Detroit Tigers Aren’t Out of the Playoff Race Yet

Entering Friday, the Tigers sat an uninspiring 13 games out of the American League Central lead. However, they also began the day only five games back of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the second wild card spot.

Why is this important?

Because Miguel Cabrera is back.

The slugger returns from a lengthy disabled-list stint and immediately gives the Tigers a massive shot in the arm (understatement of the century).

Cabrera’s numbers on the season? A .350 batting average, a .456 OBP, a 1.034 OPS (!), 15 home runs, 54 RBI and 32 extra-base-hits.

Yeah, he’s going to help the Tigers.

Detroit opens a three-game set in Houston against the Astros on Friday before facing the Cubs in Chicago before returning home to face Texas. The former Marlin slots in at third in the Tigers’ batting order. His arrival means the red-hot Ian Kinsler (.374 batting average, .979 OPS since the start of July) receives more at-bats in the second spot in the order. It also means less pressure on Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez, who slide down the order. At the very least, Cabrera moves everyone but Kinsler down in the lineup, thereby lengthening it considerably.

To put Cabrera’s importance to the team in perspective, his WAR is 4.0. That’s for wins above replacement. Four wins. Add four wins to the Tigers and they would be .500 on the season.

Not only is Cabrera back, but Bruce Rondon is pitching like the pitcher most thought he would become. Rondon owns a 1.80 ERA over his last 11 appearances, striking out 14 batters in ten innings in the process.

Rondon’s resurgence gives the Tigers three dependable, late-inning arms at the end of games. With Rondon, Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy, there less of a need to feel anxious when the Tigers close out games.

Further stats of note on Rondon? His FIP (Fielding independent pitching—basically an ERA that the pitcher can control) is 2.43, lower than every reliever the Tigers have used this season. He’s also allowed only three base-runners (one hit, two walks) over his last six outings. He’s struck out 40% of the batters he’s faced over that span. In terms of his last six outings, Rondon’s opponents are managing a .259 OPS.

If he continues to pitch like that down the stretch in save-situations, the Tigers are going to be tough to beat.

The tricky part of the wild-card situation is that the do have to beat a number of teams (at least in the standings) in order to make it into October. The Texas Rangers, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays all sit ahead of Detroit in the wild card race. That’s not to mention the New York Yankees and the Angels, who lead the race. Even with all those teams ahead of them, the Tigers can take solace in the fact that all of them (with the exceptions of Tampa Bay and Texas) have struggled as of late. New York and Baltimore are both 4-6 over their last ten respective games while Anaheim is 5-5. Minnesota is the fastest sinking ship in the harbor with a 3-7 record over the team’s last ten contests.

With Miguel Cabrera back in the fold and the back-end of the Tigers bullpen gaining some much needed consistency, the Tigers aren’t out of the playoff picture yet, not even close. Throw in some uncertainty ahead of the team in the standings and Detroit has the potential to make some noise down the stretch and once again make the postseason.

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

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Why The Tigers Should Sign Edwin Jackson

In an attempt to give their bullpen a different look, the Chicago Cubs have designated pitcher Edwin Jackson for assignment to make way for fellow reliever Rafael Soriano.

Jackson, who is a former Tiger, is on the open market after posting a 3.19 ERA (his FIP is an even more impressive 2.84) in 23 appearances. Over those 23 appearances, he’s tallied 31 innings and struck out 23 batters.

The Tigers should actively pursue a reunion.

Jackson, who pitched in his only All-Star Game as a member of the Tigers in 2009, was highly successful as a member of Detroit’s rotation, posting 13 wins.

Given Jackson’s track record as a reliever this season, and the Tigers struggles in both the rotation and the bullpen, he would make a lot of sense back in a Tigers uniform.

Whatever role Jackson takes up in Detroit—should he sign—he’d fill a need. He could slot in as part of the bullpen, suddenly giving the Tigers a shiny-new pair of dependable relievers in himself and Neftali Feliz.

(RELATED: Neftali Feliz Signing a Smart Move by the Tigers)

Or, if Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon’s struggles prove too much, Jackson could slot into the rotation. That, in addition to the eventual return of Kyle Lobstein, would give Detroit a full rotation without Greene or Simon. This would allow Simon to move to the bullpen, a place where he found considerable success. Simon worked to a 2.78 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 148.2 innings pitched out of the ‘pen for Cincinnati from 2012 to 2013.

Either way, the Tigers bullpen would benefit from a move while the rotation could also stand to benefit as well.

Jackson has been here before as well, in terms of being a midseason boost to a new team. As a starting pitcher, he provided both Chicago and St. Louis with a shot in the arm in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

During his first half-season in Chicago, Jackson went 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 75 innings. The next year, after moving to St. Louis at the deadline, Jackson went 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA in helping the Cardinals claim the World Series title.

In addition, Jackson would also be cheap. Provided the Tigers don’t claim him on waivers, he’ll only cost the veteran’s minimum.

Regardless of what role he would fill, Edwin Jackson would be a shot in the arm to a Tigers’ pitching staff desperately in need of one.

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

3 Stats from the #Detroit #Tigers 12-3 Loss to the #Chicago #Cubs

  • Five

The number of runs allowed by Tigers starter Shane Greene in only three innings pitched. Greene was also tagged for seven hits, a walk and a home run. He struck out three, but that didn’t help him much in the start. Greene was sent to Triple-A after a prolonged stretch of struggling.

  • Seven

The number of runs allowed by the Detroit bullpen. An unusually bad day for the relievers, Blaine Hardy was the only relief pitcher to escape without allowing a runner to cross home plate. Kyle Ryan was solid, allowing only one run (unearned) in three innings, but the rest of the team failed to deliver. Angel Nesbitt allowed three runs while only recording one out, which was slightly better than Tom Gorzelanny, who gave up two without getting a single out. Al Alburquerque also let a run in.

  • 11

The Tigers were able to put 11 runners on base, but failed to do much thanks to 11 punch outs. Yoenis Cespedes was the only Detroit starter without a strikeout.

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3 Stats from the Detroit Tigers 6-0 Win vs the Chicago Cubs

  • 13

The number of hits by the Tigers as a team each Tigers hitter produced a base knock, including Josh Wilson, who is now hitting .462 since joining Detroit.

  • Six

The number of hits allowed by Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez in 7.2 innings pitched. Sanchez didn’t allow any runs and struck out seven. He walked two. Hopefully this start turns things around for the former Marlin, whose ERA sits at 5.16 on the season.

  • Two

The number of hits allowed by the Tigers bullpen. Joba Chamberlain and Alex Wilson combined to hold the Cubs scoreless and finish the shutout. Both relievers have ERAs under two this season. Chamberlain’s is 1.13 while Wilson’s is 1.86.

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Seattle Mariners Acquire Welington Castro: Breaking Down the Trade

The Seattle Mariners made a move bolster their offense and production at the catcher position, bringing in veteran backstop Welington Castro from the Chicago Cubs. The M’s traded reliever Yoervis Medina to Chicago in return.

On the surface the move seems reasonable. The M’s could use reinforcements behind the plate thanks to the offensive struggles of Mike Zunino (.179 batting average) and Jesus Sucre (.067).

For his part, Castro will provide an upgrade over Sucre, and is at worst a time-share option with Zunino.

The now former Cub’s best seasons came in 2012 and 2013 when he hit .271 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI over 165 games. That’s all fine and well until you consider his stat line since: 134 games, 15 home runs, 51 RBI, 114 strikeouts and a .229 batting average (including a .163 mark this season). Castro had a WAR of 4.5 in 2013, but has been worth a -0.1 WAR this year.

Even if Castro doesn’t return to his 2012/2013 form, production somewhere between that and his struggles this season should provide the M’s with an upgrade at catcher. The price paid to bring in that potential upgrade was… interesting.

Yoervis Medina, owner of a sparkling 2.82 ERA over 137 innings pitched, was moved to the Windy City in the transaction. Granted the reliever hasn’t been himself this year with lower strikeout rates, an increasing walk rate and more hits allowed per nine innings. Additionally, his WHIP and FIP are both up from last season. Basically Medina’s numbers have gone up in all the places you’d like them to go down and down in all the places you’d like them to go up.

Still, Medina has a 3.00 ERA this season in the big leagues and a 1.59 number with Triple-A Tacoma. It would be a different story if the M’s bullpen was the well-oiled machine that it was in years past, but this year it simply hasn’t been as stellar.

Carson Smith and Charlie Furbush have both put up numbers reminiscent of past year’s bullpens, but after that there are question marks. Fernando Rodney remains the team’s closer, but is sporting an ugly 5.65 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched. He has nine saves. Danny Farquhar isn’t far behind with a 4.74 ERA. Other ERA eyesores include Tyler Olson and Dominic Leone (5.40 ERA each). Tom Wilhelmsen, Joe Beimel and Mark Lowe all have ERAs under three, but have collectively thrown 14 innings.

Despite Medina’s dip in certain statistical areas, he would still provide a better option than some of the M’s recent options, including four pitchers with ERAs over 4.70.

The addition of Castro is a solid one, one that will pay dividends for the Mariners, but you can’t deal a promising reliever, minor struggles and all, when the rest of the bullpen is performing… well, how they’re performing.

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

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Kingdome Crossover: Players the Seattle Mariners Could Have Drafted Instead of Danny Hultzen

The Seattle Mariners have made their fair share of blunders over the years, namely letting numerous players leave for little-to-no return.

This long, illustrious list includes the likes of Carlos Guillen, Jason Varitek, Rafael Soriano, Alex Rodriguez—you get the point.

The M’s missed a big opportunity in the first round of the 2011 draft.

Danny Hultzen was drafted third overall by Seattle and immediately became part of the “Big Three” pitching prospects along with James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. Hultzen showed immense potential, but has seen his career derailed by injuries.

The former first-round pick could still achieve the success he was projected to reach, but it will take time.

Hindsight is obviously 20-20 (stop me if you’ve heard that before), but the 2011 draft produced numerous first-round gems that the Mariners could have taken. Here are some of those players in order of draft position.

Dylan Bundy, Starting Pitcher: Baltimore Orioles, 4th Overall Pick

Bundy, only 22, made his major league debut in 2012. He made two relief appearances for the O’s, totaling an inning and two thirds.

However, the former fourth-overall shows the potential to be a front-line pitcher, if not an ace in the major leagues.

If nothing else, Bundy’s name appearing in trade rumors should speak to his value. According to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles wanted Bundy in a trade for Matt Kemp while Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reported in July that Boston was interested in Bundy in a potential Jon Lester trade.

Anthony Rendon, Third Baseman: Washington Nationals, 6th Overall Pick

In a draft class loaded with talented hitters, Rendon has shown the most polish early.

The third baseman, who has also experience at second base, hit .287 in 153 games. The infielder also scored a major-league high 111 runs. In addition, he swatted 23 home runs, drove in 83 runs and swiped 17 bases.

He would have trouble finding at-bats with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager manning second and third, but teams can always use extra bats—especially quality ones like Rendon.

Archie Bradley, Starting Pitcher: Arizona Diamondbacks, 7th Overall Pick

Similar to Bundy, Bradley has future ace/front-line starter written all over him.

He’s been routinely ranked in the top ten prospects in the league and is probably on equal, and while his minor league numbers haven’t been overly impressive (4.45 ERA and a 1.506 WHIP in 18 minor league starts across three minor league levels) he still has a bright future.

Bradley is on similar or better footing than Taijuan Walker or James Paxton in terms of potential.

Francisco Lindor, Shortstop: Cleveland Indians, 8th Overall Pick

Lindor has skyrocketed through the minors and could be in Cleveland in the near future.

One of the top prospects in the game, Lindor is regarded as a top-notch defensive shortstop. He also managed a .273 batting average in 38 Triple-A, showing the potential to be more than simply a defensive wizard at the major league level.

His impending arrival also forced two-time All Star Asdrubal Cabrera out of Cleveland at the trade deadline. Incumbent shortstop Jose Ramirez could meet the same fate as Cabrera.

Javier Baez, Infielder: Chicago Cubs, 9th Overall Pick

Part of the Cubs’ first wave of impact prospects to make the majors, Baez shows tremendous upside. He has outstanding power and will drive in plenty of runs when he reaches his potential.

Baez can play either middle infield position and is part of a talented group of Cubs’ infielders that include Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo among others.

The infielder wouldn’t unseat Robinson Cano at second (duh), but he’d provide an upgrade over Chris Taylor and Brad Miller at shortstop.

Baez mashed 37 homers and drove in 111 runs in across multiple levels in the minor leagues in 2013.

George Springer, Outfielder: Houston Astros, 11th Overall Pick

While Rendon would have been blocked at multiple positions by the Cano and Seager, George Springer wouldn’t have been blocked in the outfield.

Part of the Astros’ next great team, Springer is a slugger in every sense of the word.

The outfielder swatted 20 home runs in a mere 78 games. He only hit .231 and struck out 114 games, but his power is undeniable.

Springer has a .303 career batting average in the minor leagues—or, in other words, he won’t be a .231 hitter forever. He’ll improve.

But instead of hitting bombs in Safeco Field as a member of the M’s, Springer will be hitting for the division rival Astros.

Jose Fernandez, Starting Pitcher: Miami Marlins, 14th Overall Pick

Jose Fernandez is one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball—a fantastic accomplishment considering he was only drafted in 2011.

The 22-year-old Cuban took home Rookie of the Year and All-Star honors in his first season in 2013. Only Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright finished ahead of Fernandez in Cy Young voting that year.

The Marlins ace is one of the many exiting, young talents in Miami that have prompted the team to give Giancarlo Stanton a big contract and accelerate the rebuilding process so as to win as soon as possible.

Coming off of an injury shortened 2014, Fernandez will undoubtedly be Miami’s ace when he returns in 2015 and beyond.

Seattle is blessed in the pitching department with the likes of Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, but adding Fernandez certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

C.J. Cron, First Baseman: Los Angeles Angels Anaheim, 17th Overall Pick

Cron can flat out hit. He may not be as dynamic as teammate Mike Trout, but he provides the Angels with another young player to build around.

The first baseman owns a .290 career minor-league batting average and can drive the ball out of the park. He slugged 11 bombs in only 79 games in 2014 and has the potential to do much more.

With Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in decline, Cron will be counted on to help carry the Angels into the future. Don’t be surprised if Cron gets close to 40 home runs in a season at some point.

He would have been a nice fit at first base for the M’s.

Sonny Gray, Starting Pitcher: Oakland Athletics, 18th Overall Pick

While Bundy and Bradley are future aces, Gray (like Fernandez) is already there.

Gray has a 2.99 ERA in 283 innings pitched and posted a 3.2 WAR in 2014. That 3.2 WAR was higher than the likes of Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma and Anibal Sanchez.

Gray stepped in during his rookie season and started two playoff games for the A’s. Both times he went toe-to-toe with vintage Justin Verlander and didn’t blink, arguably pitching as well as the former Cy Young MVP.

Also like Fernandez, Gray would have been a nice addition to the M’s, but Seattle will have to settle for seeing him pitch against them a few times a year with Oakland.

Other Notable Names

In addition to the big names like Fernandez, Springer and Rendon, there were a plethora of players available later in the first round of the draft.

The Cardinals and Giants respective second baseman (Kolten Wong and Joe Panik) were taken 22nd and 29th overall. Jackie Bradley Jr. was taken with the 40th pick while fellow Red Sox youngsters, and current farmhands, Matt Barnes (19th), Henry Owens (36th) and Blake Swihart (26th) were also first-round picks.

While Danny Hultzen hasn’t reached the big leagues yet, the M’s clearly could have received more value out of all these players.

All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.comunless otherwise noted.

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Detroit Tigers Off-Season: How and Why the Bench Must be Improved

Bench

While the bullpen is, and will continue to be the biggest blemish on the Tigers’ roster, the bench isn’t spectacular either. More depth and quality will be needed in late-inning situations. Yes, the Tigers lineup is fantastic, but sometimes the bottom half of the lineup pales in comparison to the top half. And, as such is much easier to retire. This was brought into focus in the ninth inning of the second and third games of the ALDS against Baltimore as the bottom half wasn’t able to carry out or continue rallies with the game on the line. The Tigers need better hitters off the bench. Whether they arrive via waiver wire, the trade market, free agency, or what have you, help is needed. Dave Dombrowski has to be particularly active in fixing this during the offseason to improve the team’s chances for next year.

Dombrowski has become adept at plucking hitters out of relative obscurity and then watching them become contributing members on the team. He found Quintin Berry, who ended up being a godsend thanks to his added burst of speed into a slow lineup. Swiss army knife/utility specialist Don Kelly was another find. Matt Tuiasosopo was yet another find who provided Jim Leyland with a power hitting alternative off the bench in the legendary skipper’s final season. However, the greatest find may be that of JD Martinez. The former Astro was picked up by Detroit and, after fixing some mechanics with his swing, turned into a legitimate, middle of the order bat.

The Tigers need more production off the bench. Dombrowski isn’t going to find a JD Martinez in every transaction, but he should be actively looking for bench bats.

Yes, the Tigers’ starting lineup is fantastic, but their bench is comparatively futile. With the exception of Kelly, who has a knack for showing up in playoff games, there isn’t much to scare opposing managers or pitchers. Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera is light-hitting at best and is known more for his speed than anything. Andrew Romine and Eugenio Suarez manned shortstop for Brad Ausmus in 2014. With defensive wizard Jose Iglesias returning from injury next season, and neither shortstop’s play screaming “KEEP ME!” Detroit could look for a better hitting infielder. Another middle infielder, Hernan Perez shows the potential to be a solid two-way player, but if he wasn’t ready to play full time in the big leagues, or if he was unable to unseat Romine or Suarez, he certainly won’t surpass Iglesias next season.

Dombrowski needs to give Ausmus more pop off the bench. Catcher is an area where this could be achieved. Bryan Holaday hit .231 this season and the team might seek an upgrade to backup Alex Avila.

Avila is in a different situation. The Tigers’ starting catcher, who suffered yet another concussion during the season ending loss to Baltimore, should be moved into a backup role, or at least a platoon. This would not only minimize the inexplicably severe beating the he takes and preserve his health, but also allow Detroit to find an offensive upgrade. Avila grades out as a good defensive backstop, but hasn’t been able to replicate his offensive output of 2011 when he drove in 82 runs, garnered MVP votes and earned Silver Slugger and All Star honors.

Acquiring a new catcher to partner with Avila would be prudent. The job may go to James McCann. The Tigers’ top catching prospect is a defensive-minded backstop who also hit .295 in AAA. He’s no Victor Martinez offensively, but the .295 line is an encouraging sign from a player thought to reach the Majors because of his defense.

If catching reinforcements are looked for externally, Russell Martin or Evan Gattis would be ideal fits. Martin, one of the best at his position in the game, grades out favorably defensively and provides pop (47 home runs over the last three years) and the ability to hit for average (he hit .290 this past season). Detroit may lose yet another first round draft pick if they sign Martin, but if the former Dodger is the missing piece in terms of winning the World Series, then there should be no hesitation.

Gattis’ calling card, meanwhile, is his bat. The Braves’ slugger hit 22 home runs in only 108 games for Atlanta. Pairing him with the comparatively defensively superior Avila would be perfect. While Gattis’ bat can provide extreme power, his defense isn’t anything special. Platooning him with Avila would make his defensive deficiencies less of a sore thumb. Plus, Gattis has shown that he can be productive without playing every day. This partnership would also save Avila some physical punishment behind the plate. Gattis won’t come cheap in terms of what the Tigers will have to give up to acquire him, but the second year player isn’t arbitration eligible until 2016 at the earliest and won’t hit free agency until 2019. He made a little over $520,000 last year. This is exactly the kind of player a team looking to save money like Detroit needs—an extremely productive hitter who can play a large role without costing much. He also has played in left field for Atlanta. He’s not Gold Glove worthy playing there, but he does have the experience. Something that would come in handy if Brad Ausmus needed to wedge in an extra bat in a must-win playoff game.

Lastly, the Tigers could, at the very least, use some depth in the outfield. Rajai Davis can get by defensively in center field, so an alignment of JD Martinez, Davis and Torii Hunter (if he returns) in the outfield wouldn’t be bad. In fact, it may win them the division again, but it probably won’t deliver a World Series. Signing an impact center fielder may be out of the question. Colby Rasmus is the most enticing option on the market, but the former Blue Jay may be more appealing, and better suited, to more of a rebuilding team like the Cubs or Astros than Detroit. Speaking of the Astros, Houston’s centerfielder, Dexter Fowler, would present a quality target. It may take a lot to pry him away from the Lone Star state, but the former Colorado player would mesh perfectly in Motown with his mix of speed and pop. Other potentially available center fielders such as Desmond Jennings, Denard Span or Peter Bourjos would all be attainable as well as being logical fits in the Tigers’ lineup.

Bringing in a new, starting caliber center fielder would be advantageous in numerous ways for Detroit. First, it would fix any issues defensively at the position. As much as Rajai Davis fits the profile of an old-school center fielder in terms of speed, he’s predominantly a corner outfielder. Having a center fielder who is more accustomed to playing the position defensively would provide an upgrade. Pushing Davis to the bench or into a role where he would potentially spell the aging Torii Hunter would greatly improve the pinch-hitting options. Throw in a healthy Andy Dirks, a couple of scrap-heap/waiver wire pickups and more polished versions of Stephen Moya and Tyler Collins and the Tigers all of a sudden have a plethora of outfielders who could contribute. Injuries and slumps are about as common as the changing of the seasons, so having too many options is a good problem to have.

The Tigers’ offense has long been deemed one of the best in baseball—maybe the best. But over that span the team hasn’t had the most fearsome bench. The bullpen will need some help too, but changing the bench could help make the difference in finally winning a World Series.

 

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