Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros would once again make ideal trade partners regarding Michael Fulmer

This is all purely speculative, but the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros would make ideal trade partners if starting pitcher Michael Fulmer is dealt.

The Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros made headlines last August, agreeing to a trade that sent Tigers face of the franchise Justin Verlander, along with minor leaguer Juan Ramirez, to the American League West franchise in a deal for three prospects.

It was a mutually-beneficial deal for all parties.

Verlander allowed just four earned runs in his 34 regular-season innings for the Astros—all four came on solo home runs—before pitching to a 2.21 ERA in 36.2 postseason innings.

He also held opposing batters to a .534 OPS and a .177 batting average against in the playoffs, helping Houston to a World Series crown.

On the flipside, Detroit acquired three key prospects to help hasten the franchise’s rebuild.

Just 20 years old, starting pitcher Franklin Perez looks likely to factor into the rotation sooner rather than later after registering a 3.09 ERA, a 3.69 FIP and 25 strikeouts in 32 innings to end the year at Double-A Corpus Christi.

Meanwhile, outfielder Daz Cameron and catcher Jake Rogers, who finished the year at Single-A and Advanced-A respectively, both look like players capable of making an impact on both sides of the ball.

Moving forward, all three should be in the Majors within the next few seasons.

While it was a prominent haul for Verlander, the trade left the World Champion Astros with plenty of minor league system with plenty of talent to potentially flip for more talent as they search for another title.

There’s high-ceiling outfielders in Kyle Tucker as well as Derek Fisher, not to mention potential frontline arms in Forrest Whitley and J.B. Bukauskas.

First baseman and outfielder Yordan Alvarez is another potential impact-player who could emerge from the minors in the future.

Add in the likes of corner infielder Colin Moran, right-handers Francis Martes and David Paulino as well as left-hander Cionel Perez and there isn’t a shortage of trade chips.

Dealing from the aforementioned group wouldn’t hurt Houston’s short-term prospects, while also setting the team up for another deep October run if they can snag additional elite talent.

Keeping up with the Joneses

As it stands, the Astros are still one of baseball’s elite teams despite only adding relievers Joe Smith, Hector Rondon and Anthony Gose in the offseason.

Still, Houston has certainly seen their competition up the ante so far in the Hot Stove League.

The New York Yankees, who came within a game of beating Houston in the most recent iteration of the American League Championship Series, just added Giancarlo Stanton and will benefit from a full season of Sonny Gray in 2018.

Meanwhile, there’s significant competition in the American League West for the Astros, a division Houston won by 21 games last season.

Anaheim’s offseason moves—signing Shohei Ohtani and Zack Cozart and trading for Ian Kinsler—may not be enough to bridge the gap to the ‘Stros.

However, the trio, along with recently re-signed August trade acquisition Justin Upton, should make things significantly closer out West.

What’s more, with a free agent market that still includes J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas an American league team looking to make an impact of their own could shake things up in a hurry.

Pitching, pitching and more pitching

Speaking of potential additions, the Astros have recently been linked with one in the form of Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole.

Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweeted the following in a pair of tweets on Monday morning.

Additionally, MLB.com’s Alyson Footer tweeted the following with a video of Houston owner Jim Crane answering questions.

Michael Fulmer

While the Astros have yet to be linked with Fulmer, the fit is definitely there in terms of a long-term fit in Houston’s rotation.

Per Spotrac, The 24-year-old has five years of controllability left before he reaches free agency. What’s more, those five years include one year of pre-arbitration control.

This is all purely speculative, but the fit is not only there for the Astros, but also for the Tigers.

Outside of the Yankees and perhaps Atlanta, Houston is the best positioned team in terms of young talent and prospects that can make a substantial offer for Fulmer.

The same prospects Passan mentioned in his tweets, Fisher, Tucker and Whitley, would certainly make sense for the Tigers.

That’s also purely speculative, but a player like Tucker or Whitely would represent the elite prospect Detroit would be an excellent starting point for executive vice president of baseball operations Al Avila and company.

At this point, Detroit should only trade Fulmer if a team is willing to pay top dollar, or more.

Building a package around Tucker would certainly make sense.

Position Player Prospects Needed

While the Tigers dealing Michael Fulmer would certainly be a blow to the long-term outlook in the rotation, starting pitching is the one area where the orginization deep in quality prospects.

With Perez, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows all at varying stages of the development process, Detroit has four starters with the potential to pitch near the top of a Major League rotation.

There’s also plenty of other starters with potential in Grayson Long, Kyle Funkhouser, Gregory Soto, Sandy Baez and Tyler Alexander.

While the starting pitching looks promising, as does the future bullpen picture, there isn’t as much depth in terms of position players.

There is plenty of upside with Cameron, Rogers, all-around middle infielder Isaac Paredes, promising outfield slugger Christin Stewart, outfielder Mike Gerber and infielder Dawel Lugo.

All could become anywhere from quality to impact players in the Majors, but as it stands, the Tigers don’t have a position player prospect to spearhead the rebuild like the White Sox have with Yoan Moncada or the Cubs had with Anthony Rizzo.

Adding Tucker could accomplish that.

Close to the Majors

It also wouldn’t hurt that the outfielder is already at Double-A after turning in a 129 wRC+, a .368 wOBA, a .247 ISO and an .837 OPS in 317 plate appearances against competition that was on average four years older than him.

Outside of Stewart, Gerber and Lugo, Detroit’s best position player are scattered across the lower minors.

Of the three, only Gerber has graduated to Triple-A, and he logged just 18 plate appearances with Triple-A Toledo at the tail-end of last season.

Outside of Tucker in this hypothetical swap, the Tigers should also target first baseman and outfielder Yordan Alvarez.

Alvarez just finished the 2017 season at Advanced-A Buies Creek, but he’d give the Tigers a definite long-term successor for Miguel Cabrera at first base.

Throw in a starting prospect like Hector Perez, or perhaps a player like Bukauskas, and you’ve got the making of a win-win trade.

Market/Value

If anything, if a Cole/Astros trade does occur, it would set some sort of bar for Fulmer in terms of a trade return, considering both are frontline-type starters.

In fact, you could probably make the case that Fulmer has more value.

He’s not as established as the Pirates’ ace, but he’s younger, comes with more years of team control and has been more valuable since the 2016 season (when Fulmer entered the league).

Gerrit Cole vs Michael Fulmer

Gerrit Cole

Age: 27
Years of team control remaining, per Spotrac: Two
Career fWAR: 15.9
Lifetime Swinging Strike Percentage: 9.5
Lifetime WHIP: 1.22
Innings pitched since 2016: 319
fWAR since 2016: 5.6

Michael Fulmer

Age: 24
Years of team control remaining, per Spotrac: Five
Career fWAR: 6.6
Lifetime Swinging Strike Percentage: 9.9
Lifetime WHIP: 1.14
Innings pitched since 2016: 323.2
fWAR since 2016: 6.6

If the Pirates end up dealing Cole for a premium return, it would set up the Tigers to potentially receive much more in swap should the team move their resident ace.

Next Column:

The Angels could have conceivably headed for a rebuild. Now with Shohei Ohtaniand reportedly Kevin Maitanthe future is bright in Anaheim.

Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees make for ideal trade partners regarding Michael Fulmer, Ian Kinsler

The Detroit Tigers should demand full value, if not more, for Michael Fulmer. If he’s dealt this winter, the New York Yankees are an ideal fit.

Detroit Tigers ace Michael Fulmer would make for one of the most interesting trade cases of the offseason.

Whether the hurler is actually dealt remains to be seen.

The Detroit Free Press’ Anthony Fenech tweeted the following on Monday regarding Fulmer:

Detroit obviously doesn’t have to move the All-Star and former Rookie of the Year.

The 24-year-old has five years of team control left, per Spotrac, and has accumulated a 6.6 fWAR in his first two seasons.

Those are compelling reasons to keep hold of the former first-round pick, given that he could be a part of the next great Tigers team.

However, the team control and standout performances are equally compelling reasons to move the right-hander.

Either way, Fulmer’s name will be a fascinating one to watch this winter.

One team with reported, per a tweet from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, interest in the pitcher is the New York Yankees.

Nightengale tweeted the following on Tuesday morning:

Yes, the same Yankees who were a win away from the World Series. Yes, the same Yankees who just acquired Giancarlo Stanton.

Adding Fulmer to New York’s stacked roster would undoubtedly make the Bronx Bombers World Series front runners—sorry Astros and Dodgers.

The Yankees are also one of the few teams who have the prospect and young player capital to make at least a reasonable offer for Fulmer.

WFAN’s Sweeny Murti tweeted about Fulmer and some of the Yankees’ prospects on Tuesday, commenting on an earlier tweet from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

While Murti notes that Torres and Florial are “close to untouchable”, one of them should be the starting point in working out a deal between the Tigers and Yankees.

Of course, this is all speculative and it remains to be seen if the Tigers will in fact move Fulmer, but a player like Torres would provide an excellent starting point.

Torres, an infielder, had Tommy John surgery last season.

However, he could very well play a role in the Majors in 2018. He’s widely regarded as one of the best prospects in baseball, often mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Victor Robles and Eloy Jimenez.

With the Tigers, he’d give the team a long-term solution at shortstop next to Jeimer Candelario at third base.

This would move Dixon Machado off shortstop, but Torres’ high upside would give Detroit a potential impact position player to build around.

In addition to Torres, the Tigers should demand more high-prospects.

Perhaps not Florial, but the Yankees do have a deep system from which to deal from.

Outfielder Clint Frazier, a former high-end prospect his own right, is only 23 and recently turned in a .825 OPS in 320 plate appearances for New York’s Triple-A squad.

The former Cleveland farmhand also appeared in 39 games (142 plate appearances) for the big league team in 2017, notching a .216 ISO and a .715 OPS.

With Stanton now joining Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the outfield mix in the mix in the Bronx, Frazier could conceivably be expendable.

In the event of a trade, Frazier would immediately slot in as a starter in Detroit.

A Torres/Frazier pairing could help the Tigers immediately reap the benefits of a Fulmer trade to the Yankees, but the team shouldn’t stop there.

Michael Fulmer vs Chris Sale

Detroit should be demanding full value for Fulmer, just as the White Sox did in last summer’s Chris Sale deal.

Sale and Fulmer are obviously significantly different pitchers, but they should hold similar trade value.

Yes, Sale misses more bats, but he was three years older than Fulmer at the time of the trade last year.

The former White Sox ace also came with two seasons less of team control, and was considerably more expensive. 

According to Spotrac, the southpaw made $12 million in 2017. Per the same publication, he’s slated to make $12.5 million next year with a $15 million club option for 2019.

Meanwhile, per Spotrac, Fulmer will spend another season under team control before he’s eligible for arbitration. He’ll then have four years of controllability left via arbitration.

In return for Sale, the White Sox netted second baseman Yoan Moncada, right-handed starter Michael Kopech, right-handed reliever Victor Diaz and outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe.

In 2016, MLB.com’s MLB Pipeline ranked Moncada as the best overall prospect, with Kopech checking in at 30th.

Both Diaz and Basabe have upside as well, with the latter checking at 17th on MLB.com’s MLB Pipeline list of the top White Sox prospects in 2017.

The Yankees’ Other Prospects

Another New York farmhand who could a fit is right-hander Chance Adams.

A 23-year-old pitcher, the right-hander has a promising four-pitch mix and recently turned in a 2.89 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 103 strikeouts in 115.1 innings for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

If included in any hypothetical deal, he could slot in as Fulmer’s direct replacement in the rotation.

Hard-throwing right-handers Domingo German and Dillon Tate would also be intriguing fits for down the road, as would outfielder Billy McKinney and Everson Pereira.

Ian Kinsler

Once again, this is all purely speculative, but one of the reasons the Yankees are ideal trade partners for the Tigers is not just because of the prospects available in a Fulmer, but because of the potential of adding Ian Kinsler to the hypothetical trade.

The Giancarlo Stanton trade cost the Yankees starting second baseman Starlin Castro, immediately making second base a position of need for Brian Cashman and company.

Castro posted a 110 wRC+ and a .338 wOBA last season, finishing with a 1.9 fWAR.

Kinsler, even in a down year at the plate, registered a 2.4 fWAR last season thanks to some strong defense.

His offensive production should rebound in the future after logging a .244 BABIP in 2017 that was .044 below his career norm.

In that regard, the veteran would be a significant upgrade over Castro for the Yankees, after logging fWARs of 5.2, 4.1 and 5.7 in a Tigers uniform from 2014 to 2016.

Adding Kinsler to the deal would hypothetically help the Tigers slightly up the overall value received from New York in the form of a better prospect, or an extra prospect all together.

It may also be prudent to package Kinsler with Fulmer in a deal if the ace is dealt considering the lack of teams with second base needs.

The Yankees may be the best fit for Kinsler in that regard.

Moving the second baseman would also help Detroit save money, which will be key for the organization moving forward.

Money Potentially Saved

According to Spotrac, Kinsler will make $11 million in 2018 before hitting the free agent market.

Moving his contract will immediately help the Tigers shed payroll, as will trading Fulmer in this hypothetical scenario.

The right-hander still has one year left before arbitration, and likely won’t be cheap given his career to date.

Of course, if Detroit is intent on keeping Fulmer, paying for his arbitration years won’t be a problem given his talent.

Still, trading him now would save cash down the line.

In Conclusion

It obviously remains to be seen what will happen this offseason.

However, the fact remains that the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers are ideal trade partners where both Michael Fulmer and Ian Kinsler are concerned.

That being said, Detroit should obviously demand full value—if not more—for a pitcher like Fulmer, but the fit is there nonetheless.

Next Column:

The Angels could have conceivably headed for a rebuild. Now with Shohei Ohtani and reportedly Kevin Maitan, the future is bright in Anaheim.

Why Leonys Martin is the perfect signing for the Detroit Tigers

Newly-signed outfielder Leonys Martin could provide plenty of value for the Detroit Tigers.

In an offseason that has been stagnant to say the least, the Detroit Tigers have actually been active.

Well, “active” doesn’t necessarily paint the whole picture.

“Relatively active” is probably more apt.

In the early stages of a rebuild that was kick-started by a number of high profile, mid-season trades, the Tigers front office has largely stuck to signing free agents on minor league deals this winter.

There have been some potentially useful finds among the haul of players who have recently joined Detroit on minor league contracts from former first-round pick Kevin Comer to ex-Twin Niko Goodrum and longtime Yankee prospect Mark Montgomery.

Comer and Goodrum are both just 25, while Montgomery is 27.

The Tigers are unlikely to find another J.D. Martinez-type player—in terms of impact— in free agency, but they could very easily stumble upon a bench piece or two, a platoon starter, a back-end rotation arm or a relief pitcher.

Comer, Goodrum, Montgomery and Ryan Carpenter, who signed a Major League deal, all look like quality additions that will provide new Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire with improved depth.

Up until Tuesday, Carpenter was the only player the Tigers signed to a big-league deal.

That changed, as the club announced in a tweet that outfielder Leonys Martin has joined the organization on a Major League deal.

The tweet also included the signings of four other players to minor league deals, including outfielder Jim Adduci and former All-Star Derek Norris, but Martin is the most intriguing of the group by far.

In a rebuild, franchises need to throw as many low risk, high-upside players at the proverbial wall as possible to see if anything sticks.

Whether said players develop into long-term pieces, trade chips or are simply designated for assignment or cut at a later date, teams like the Tigers need to be taking fliers on players with high ceilings.

That’s certainly what Martin has.

High Ceiling

A 29-year-old outfielder, the veteran previously spent parts of five seasons with the Texas Rangers from 2011 to 2015. He was a regular starter in both 2013 and 2014, while seeing significant playing time in 2015.

Martin was also an everyday player for the Seattle Mariners in 2016, before splitting last season with the M’s and Chicago Cubs.

His 2017 stats (-0.4 fWAR, 35 wRC+ and a .224 wOBA) won’t show it, but the outfielder has plenty to offer at the Major League level.

As recently as 2016 he notched a 2.2 fWAR. It was the veteran’s third season in the last five campaigns with an fWAR north of 2.0.

Part of what has made Martin so valuable in the past has been his ability to make an impact on the base paths and in the field.

Since the beginning of the 2013 season—when he started seeing consistent at-bats—only 12 players have stole more bases than Martin.

The former Ranger is tied with a certain Mike Trout with 112 swipes over that span.

If raw stolen bases totals don’t tickle your fancy, perhaps some more advanced metrics will. Martin ranks 13th in Major League Baseball over the same span with a collective BsR of 21.9.

That 21.9 BsR includes respective outputs of 7.7, 6.6, 2.7 and 4.6 from 2013 to 2016.

In the last three seasons, Detroit’s leaders in BsR include the following:

2015: Yoenis Cespedes, 2.3.

2016: Ian Kinsler, 3.6.

2017: Mikie Mahtook, 3.2.

The three, along with Cameron Maybin in’s 2.5 BsR in 2016, are the only players to even come in above the 2.0 mark.

In that regard alone, Martin’s addition could provide instant dividends.

Another area where the 29-year-old could make an impact is in spacious Comerica Park.

Detroit’s defensive struggles have been well-documented, and the team’s outfielders struggled mightily at times in 2017.

Overall, Detroit outfield players ranked 18th in UZR/150 (-1.8), 20th in collective DRS (-10) and 29th in ARM (-14.2).

The outfield stats were largely weighed down players like J.D. Martinez (-16.4 UZR/150, a -6 DRS and a -4.9 ARM), Nicholas Castellanos (-80.5 UZR/150, -7 DRS and a -3.2 ARM) and Alex Presley (-8.0 UZR/150, -11 DRS and a -0.5 ARM).

These statistical outputs overshadowed players who were actually quite dependable in the outfield grass, including Justin Upton and his +13 DRS, Andrew Romine and his team-leading 7.9 UZR/150 and JaCoby Jones.

Despite seeing considerably less playing time, the rookie logged a 4.3 UZR/150 and a +5 DRS in Comerica Park’s spacious center field.

Still, whichever way you slice it, the Tigers needed defensive help in the outfield.

Upton was traded to Anaheim on the eve of September, while Romine also now calls the American League West his home division after being claimed on waivers by the Mariners.

Jones is still a Detroit Tigers player, but his offensive struggles—which we’ll get to in a bit—make it somewhat difficult to play him every day.

Gardenhire and the Tigers should have no problem playing Martin every day, especially considering he can make a serious impact in the outfield grass.

Among center fielders with at least 4,000 since the start of the 2013 season, Martin ranks fourth behind only Billy Hamilton, Lorenzo Cain and Carlos Gomez in Def, or defensive runs above average.

The ex-Ranger checks in with a 41.3 stat in the category.

He also ranks behind Cain, and only Cain, in DRS, with a positive output of +48.

In terms of ARM, Martin finally comes in ahead of the longtime Kansas City outfielder, along with all other outfielders, with a 34.7 metric.

Offensive Boost

Now we’ve circled back to the JaCoby Jones offensive production portion of the column. The former Pirates farmhand shows considerable potential, but struggles mightily at the plate.

In 154 plate appearances, the 25-year-old managed just a 34 wRC+ and a .229 wOBA. He also put up a .240 on-base percentage and a .270 slugging percentage.

While struggles at the plate are nothing new for players breaking into the Major Leagues, Jones continues to swing and miss far too often.

The center fielder posted a 42.2% strikeout rate in 2017, which was only a slight improvement over the 42.9% rate he logged in 28 plate appearances in 2016.

Jones’ defense and base running ability will continue to play at the Major League level, but until he can develop at the dish, he may be better suited as serving as a defensive replacement and pinch runner late in games.

With Mike Gerber and Christin Stewart far from locks to play early for the Tigers in 2018, Mikie Mahtook looks slated for the starting gig in left field.

That left Jones the sole starting option in center field.

Now, with Martin in the mix, Detroit’s offensive outlook in center field is much improved.

Offensive upside

The former Mariner is by no means an offensive force in the Majors, but he brings some power to the game as a center fielder, a trait that gives him intriguing potential.

Martin clocked 15 home runs in 2016, and has registered ISO stats over .120 in two of his three seasons as a starting player.

What’s more, he’s coming off an excellent 88 game, 388 plate appearance stint with Triple-A Tacoma, in which he swatted 11 home runs to go along with 63 runs scored, 39 RBI, 25 stolen bases, a .361 wOBA and a 114 wRC+.

Those numbers may not be sustainable in the Majors, but Martin is a prime candidate to bounce back.

His 2017 production was severely hampered by an exceedingly-low .207 BABUP that was well below his career .306 number.

Low BABIP-induced down years are nothing new for Martin.

His BABIP dropped to .270 in 2015.

Following a strong 2014 campaign, his offensive production dropped off considerably.

Leonys Martin 2014 production: .274 batting average, .325 on-base percentage, .364 slugging percentage, .306 wOBA and a 91 wRC+.

Leonys Martin 2015 production: .219 batting average, .264 on-base percentage, .313 slugging percentage, a .254 wOBA and a 52 wRC+.

After an offseason trade to Seattle, Martin bounced back in the Pacific Northwest as his BABIP returned to a more-normal looking .313 number.

In 576 plate appearances for the M’s, the outfielder hit .247 with a .306 on-base percentage, a .378 slugging percentage, a .298 wOBA and an 88 wRC+.

If the BABIP can come up again, Martin has a chance to make a significant impact for the Detroit Tigers in 2018 in multiple facets of the game.

USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale tweeted about Martin’s reported salary in 2018 in a tweet on Tuesday.

Nightengale tweeted the following:

Even if the Tigers end up paying all of Martin’s reported incentives, a reported $2.85 million could turn into a significant bargain if Leonys Martin can regain his past form.

More MLB Columns: With Shohei Ohtani and reportedly Kevin Maitan, the future is bright in Anaheim.

Detroit Tigers: One of the Tweets of the Year

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

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Detroit Tigers: Should the Team Add Another Left Fielder?

It’s safe to say that new Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila has been busy since taking over for Dave Dombrowski. In Avila’s first offseason in charge, the new head man in the Tigers front office has made a slew of signings and trades that were both astute and cost efficient.

Detroit has already added the likes Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Pelfrey, Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe, Justin Wilson, Cameron Maybin and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. These additions have satisfied the team’s needs in the starting rotation and the bullpen, as well as adding extra depth in areas such as centerfield and behind the plate.

What’s not included in that list is a legitimate left fielder. With a considerable amount of time left before spring training, should the Tigers add another left fielder? Here are some of the team’s options.

Stick With What You’ve Got

With the acquisition of Maybin, the team now employs three starting-caliber outfielders: Maybin, Anthony Gose and J.D. Martinez. However, Maybin and Gose are natural center fielders while Martinez is entrenched in right field.

There is some logic in playing both Maybin and Gose together. Both can eat up ground in the outfield, and paired with Martinez’ cannon of an arm in right would provide an intriguing defensive trio. There is also the fact that Maybin and Gose (46 combined stolen bases in 2015) provide Detroit and manager Brad Ausmus a fair amount of speed. Additionally, should either player struggle with the bat, their offensive shortcomings would be hidden by the production of Miguel Cabrera and Martinez among others.

However, the fact remains that neither player has much experience in left. Gose grades out well at the position in terms of defensive metrics, but he has only logged 41 games there. Maybin has even more inexperience. The outfielder has only played in 10 games in left field, all of which came in 2007 when he was a rookie with the Tigers.

Tyler Collins and Steven Moya also present internal options for Detroit.

The Big Names

Detroit has previously been linked (via CBS Sports’ John Heyman) to big name free agents like Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon. Both, especially Gordon, would be excellent fits with the Tigers. However, CBS Detroit reports that Avila said the Tigers were “at this point” out on both Cespedes and Gordon.

Based on that, it appears that Detroit won’t sign either, but the key wording is “at this point.” It’s certainly not inconceivable to see the team sign either at a somewhat later date should the two remain on the open market.

Carlos Gonzalez is another player that could help the Tigers. Gonzalez’ blend of defensive skill and the ability to hit for average and power is extremely appealing, however the team may be cautious with the player’s hefty salary.

The Platoon Types

While the free agent market offers only a few legitimate, difference-making corner outfielders, there are a plethora of outfielders who could excel in a platoon. David Murphy and Travis Snider are just a few options that could find a home in Detroit.

Names Out of Left Field

First of all, pun intended. Second of all, the Tigers have already made trades for players (Maybin and Miller) who didn’t dominate the trade rumors. In other words, the players didn’t seem likely to be dealt as say someone like Shelby Miller. Avila could conceivably make a trade for a left fielder that quite literally comes out of left field.

Old Friends

There are a number of former Detroit outfielders available. Whether the team pursues them or not remains to be seen, but in addition to Cespedes, Matt Joyce, Delmon Young, Rajai Davis, Ryan Raburn, and Austin Jackson are all currently free agents.

The Lottery Tickets

The Tigers’ decision makers were rewarded when they took a gamble on a talented young player, J.D. Martinez, whose previous employers had moved on. Could the team take a similar gamble this offseason?

Alex Grossman is a name on the market who is in a similar situation to Martinez.

Grossman, who like Martinez was cut by the Astros, is only 26-years-old and comes with over 600 at-bats spread across parts of three big-league seasons. The outfielder is more of an all-around player, with 11 home runs, 15 stolen bases, 63 RBI and a .240 batting average in 190 games. He was a top prospect as a minor-league player and still has the time to fulfill his potential.

Detroit Tigers: Some Jordan Zimmermann-Related Tweets

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Detroit Tigers Reportedly Interested in Doug Fister

Per a Tweet form ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Detroit Tigers are interested in free agent pitcher Doug Fister.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It would be a reunion for the two sides as Fister pitched for the Tigers for two and a half years from midway 2011 through 2013. During his time in Motown, the right-handed pitcher won 32 games while posting a sparkling 3.29 ERA. His FIP was an even-more impressive 3.20. While he isn’t a pitcher who will pile on the strikeouts, Fister works fast and keeps the ball in the yard. In 2011 he led the league with only 0.5 home runs allowed per nine innings. Fister spent the second half of that season in Detroit where he went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA and a 57 strikeouts compared to only five walks.

Additionally, the former Mariner transformed into a standout playoff performer with the Tigers. Fister posted a 2.98 ERA in 48.1 postseason innings with Detroit. His team was 6-2 in those contests.

While he thrived on the field, most fans will remember how cheaply Fister was acquired.

Dave Dombrowski acquired the starter (along with David Pauley) for Francisco Martinez, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin and Casper Wells. Furbush is an effective reliever for the Mariners, but that’s about all Seattle received. Both Wells and Ruffin last appeared in the majors in 2013 while Martinez never reached the big leagues with Seattle. He was dealt back to Detroit in 2013.

Fister also left Detroit in a one-sided trade. Dombrowski dealt him to the Washington Nationals for Ian Krol, Steve Lombardozzi and Robbie Ray. Only Krol remains with the Tigers, and he posted a 5.79 ERA and a 5.17 FIP last season.

Doug Fister is now a free agent after his contract with the Washington Nationals expired. The team didn’t extend a qualifying offer to the pitcher, making him free to sign without surrendering a draft pick.

In addition to not costing a draft pick, Fister will also be comparatively cheap. His value will have gone down after going 4-7 with a 4.60 ERA in 15 starts for the Nationals this season. Opponents hit .302 off him during those starts. He was relegated to the bullpen after that stretch.

(You May Also Like: Why the Tigers Should Sign Doug Fister in the Offseason)

While not as expensive as David Price or Zack Greinke, Doug Fister could provide the Tigers with the rotation upgrade the team has been seeking.

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

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

Ben is on Twitter. He promises that he doesn’t always refer to himself in the third person.

Detroit Tigers 2016: Position Player Locks, Uncertainties and Likely Departures

Somewhat recently, Know Hitter looked at the pitchers that are locks, uncertainties, or likely departures ahead of next season.

Now it’s time to look at the hitters, where there are much fewer uncertainties. This doesn’t mean changes won’t come about for Detroit, but most of the offense is expected to stay put.

Locks

James McCann

McCann was extremely impressive as a rookie. The young backstop hit .264, while also committing zero errors in 114 games. He looks like he’ll be in the Motor City for the next decade. He may not have the offensive acumen of Ivan Rodriguez or Alex Avila (before injuries took their toll), but if he can continue to gradually improve upon his .264 batting average, he has a chance to be special. McCann also hit five triples, a pretty spectacular number for a catcher.

Miguel Cabrera

Come on, too easy.

Ian Kinsler

The former Texas Ranger has quickly become one of Detroit’s most indispensable players. He’s provided elite defense (2.9 and 2.5 dWAR in his two seasons in Motown) while at times carrying the team offensively. Kinsler managed to drive in 73 runs despite an early power outage that saw him hit only three home runs through June. You can make the case that with the exception of J.D. Martinez, Kinsler was the Tigers’ MVP last season.

Jose Iglesias

If a guy can do all this (see video below) and hit .296, you’ve got a keeper for the next decade.


Nick Castellanos

At only 23-years-old, Castellanos has already driven in 139 runs in the big leagues. Some prospects don’t even reach the Majors at that age. While a .255 batting average is nothing to write home about, Castellanos showed flashes of brilliance and greatly improved defensively. He also managed to increase his total number of hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI and walks. Kid’s got a bright future.

J.D. Martinez

Maybe we’ll call the Tigers’ MVP award race a tie and hand it to both Kinsler and Martinez. For his part, Martinez proved that 2014 was no fluke. The former Houston Astro snagged a spot on the All-Star team in addition to a .282 batting average, 38 home runs and 102 RBI. Like McCann, Iglesias and Castellanos, you can plug him into the Detroit lineup for the better part of the next decade.

Anthony Gose

Gose only hit .254 for the Tigers, but provided solid defense while stealing 23 bases. He platooned with Rajai Davis in center field last year, expect a similar platoon predicament for Gose next season. The speedy outfielder will likely serve as the team’s primary source of speed.

Victor Martinez

V-Mart struggled last year, hitting .245 in 120 games. The designated hitter’s power numbers were down as well with only 20 doubles, 11 home runs and 64 RBI in those contests. With his massive contract, Martinez isn’t going anywhere. Despite the struggles, look for the Tigers’ DH to bounce back next season.

Andrew Romine

Romine seems a solid bet to make the roster thanks to his ability to play around the infield. He also adds a bit of speed (10 stolen bases) off the bench.

Tyler Collins

Even if it’s as a bench bat, Collins has proved he belongs on the team next season. The outfielder hit .266 with a .732 OPS in 60 games. As it stands, he may be the best bench bat the Tigers employ.

Uncertainties

Dixon Machado

Even if Romine makes the team, fellow infielder Machado stands a good chance of making it as well. The middle infielder’s defense has been big-league ready for years, and he showed promise in limited cup of coffee.

Rajai Davis

Davis would certainly make sense as a bench bat/pinch runner, but another team offering more cash and playing time may come calling. Additionally, the Tigers may opt for a different alternative to Gose in center. The fact remains that Davis is still a fit for the club if the stars align. It would shock no one if Davis is once again wearing an Old English “D” in 2016.

Steven Moya

Moya has all kinds of potential thanks to his famous power. He needs to work on his plate discipline however, and may be better suited at Triple-A Toledo for a season before joining the Tigers for good in 2017. If he shows well in the minors, a mid-season call up certainly isn’t out of the question.

Bryan Holaday

Whether Holaday makes the team or not is probably entirely dependent on whether new general manager Al Avila signs another catcher to backup McCann. If no other backstops are brought in, expect Holaday to serve as McCann’s deputy in 2016.

Jefry Marte

Another young player who showed flashes of potential, Marte may find himself in Triple-A. His power would certainly help the Detroit bench, but with Romine able to handle both of the positions that Marte plays, the former Oakland Athletics farm hand could be with Toledo. Still, if Marte tears it up in Spring Training, the Tigers will have a tough decision on their hands.

Likely Departures/ Departures

Alex Avila

Avila’s father/Tigers GM Al Avila has already stated that he doesn’t see resigning Alex “as a priority.” In other words, it appears that the younger Avila has played his final game with Detroit. He’ll likely sign elsewhere in search of more playing time.

Josh Wilson

Wilson was outrighted by the Tigers and elected free agency as opposed to staying in the organization. The infielder hit /316 in a 21 game cameo for the Tigers, driving in five runs in the process.

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

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

New Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto’s Major Trade History and Grades

Unlike his predecessor, new Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has previous experience as a top decision-maker (for lack of a better term) in a major league front office.

Dipoto presided over the Arizona Diamondbacks for a short spell as the Snakes went through a transition period. The GM shipped off a number of key players.

Following his stint in the desert, Dipoto took over as the general manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

However, before we get to the spending and all-in moves made by Dipoto in Anaheim, his tenure in Arizona must be properly gone over with a fine-tooth comb—at least in terms of his trades.

Dipoto made a few major trades in Arizona. The most prominent of which occurred on July 25th, 2010 when he dealt Dan Haren to the Angels for Tyler Skaggs, Rafael Rodriguez, Joe Saunders and Patrick Corbin.

Haren was generally pretty outstanding in a Diamondbacks’ jersey. He earned All-Star nods in 2008 and 2009 while finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting in ’09. Over the two seasons he went 30-18 with a sparkling 3.23 ERA and 429 strikeouts in 445.1 innings pitched. His FIP was an even more outstanding 3.12. Haren led the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio in both 2008 and 2009.

The 2010 season was different for Haren. He went 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA in 21 starts. His FIP was a still-respectable 3.88, but it was clear his numbers were nowhere near his usual best. So with the Diamondbacks struggling, Dipoto sent Haren packing to his future employers in Anaheim.

The Haren trade was actually sneaky-good, in retrospect, for the Diamondbacks. Despite the ace posting an impressive 13.2 WAR in two-and-a-half seasons in the desert, he was traded. Haren was essentially dealt for three starting pitcher (Rodriguez threw 2.2 innings for the D-Backs and hasn’t seen the Majors since).

The first pitcher, Skaggs, posted a 5.43 ERA in 13 career starts for the Diamondbacks. The young pitcher was never quite able to put it together in Arizona. Dipoto later acquired Skaggs during his tenure in Anaheim. Skaggs and Adam Eaton to the Angels and White Sox respectively for Mark Trumbo (who strangely enough, was just dealt to Seattle a few months ago).

Saunders was extremely dependable as a member of Arizona’s rotation. He posted a 3.96 ERA in 424.2 innings for the D-Backs, serving as an innings eater. He only won 21 games in three seasons with Arizona, but was worth a 2.1 WAR.

Last-but-not-least, Patrick Corbin is the centerpiece of the deal. The starting pitcher has won 26 games in his three seasons with Arizona. He made the All Star team in 2013 and posted a 14-8 record with a 3.41 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 208.1 innings pitched. He missed 2014, but came back to post a 3.60 ERA in 16 starts this season. The 26-year-old is clearly one to build around for the D-Backs.

Haren never posted the brilliant stats he did in Arizona after leaving the desert. The fact that Dipoto received three major league starters for Haren, including an All Star and frontline starter in Corbin, makes the trade a win for him. Dealing an ace is never easy, but when you acquire three big-league starters, it’s looked at as a win—especially when one of the three has the potential to be a front-line starter for the foreseeable future.

Trade Grade: A

Five days after that Dipoto sent Edwin Jackson to the Chicago White Sox for David Holmberg and Daniel Hudson. Continue reading

Detroit Tigers: Neftali Feliz has a Chance to Solidify Himself as the Tigers’ Closer for 2016

With news coming out of Detroit that Brad Ausmus will continue to manage the team next season, and thus keep his job, it’s now a time of evaluation for the Tigers as the team decides which non-core players to keep around next season.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

With a number of starting players set in stone (Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Justin Verlander, James McCann, etc.) the likely focus of the evaluation process will be positions where there is uncertainty. Naturally, the most uncertain area of the Tigers’ roster will be under close examination. That uncertain area? The bullpen. More specifically, the back end of the bullpen.

Alex Wilson has performed admirably for Detroit, pitching wherever he’s needed. The former Red Sox pitcher owns a 2.19 ERA in 70 innings and is one of the few relievers with job security heading into next season. However, Wilson’s ERA is nearly a run higher in save situations then it is in non-save situations. He’ll pitch effectively wherever the Tigers pitch him, but ideally the team would probably have Wilson throwing in the seventh or eighth inning in front of a lockdown closer.

Where that closer emerges from (free agency, trade, the minor league system, etc.) remains to be seen, but the Tigers have one building block in Wilson.

With so little certainty in the bullpen heading into next year, especially with Bruce Rondon being sent home early, now is the time for relievers not named Wilson to make their respective marks.

One reliever who could benefit greatly from Rondon’s absence is Neftali Feliz.

The former Texas Ranger still owns an unsightly 7.33 ERA for the Tigers, but a closer look at his numbers reveals a much better product. Feliz’ FIP, or of fielding independent pitching, is 3.78. Additionally, over his last 12 appearances (12.2 innings), the ex-Ranger has a 2.13 ERA and is holding batters to a .178 batting average. Over those innings, Feliz has struck out 11 batters while only walking one. Opposing hitters have managed a .457 OPS against the reliever.

Looking at those stats, Feliz clearly has the talent to be a significant contributor to the Detroit bullpen. He may even end up as closer. As of now, he has three saves in a Tigers’ uniform, two of which have come in the last two wins for the team. With Rondon no longer with the team for the duration of this season, Neftali Feliz has a chance to cement himself as a late-inning option for the Ausmus heading into next season.

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

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