The Detroit Tigers have one of the best prospects in all of baseball in pitcher Jacob Turner, but now is the time that the organization needs to trade the budding star.
The Tigers came into the 2012 season with the highest of all expectations. After winning the AL Central in 2011 and signing slugger Prince Fielder in the offseason, there's only one thing left to accomplish in 2012—winning the World Series.
The Tigers haven't necessarily gotten off to the dominant start many baseball enthusiasts expected, possessing just a 13-12 record thus far and having problems on the mound and at the plate. While it's certainly not time to panic in Motown, the Tigers can't play .500 baseball for too much longer before the pundits will come calling for change.
Looking at the starting rotation going forward, the Tigers have a good problem on their hands—they have plenty of quality arms throughout their system.
Everyone knows what to expect when ace Justin Verlander takes the mound. Doug Fister has been on the DL since his first start of the season, which will be an added bonus when he returns.
Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer are the definition of hot and cold pitchers—fans never really know what to expect during their starts. Porcello is just 23 years old and will remain in the rotation while Scherzer seems to be constantly flirting with disaster and could easily pitch his way out of Detroit, but is here to stay for now.
The debate over who the fifth starter of the future should be looms large in Tiger town. Turner is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the organization and was expected to win the job out of camp, but has been hampered with a sore shoulder since the spring.
While he appears to be just fine, the Tigers have found an unexpected gem to fill the spot in the rotation in lefty Drew Smyly. After all, the team needs a left-handed pitcher to keep their opponents off balance and Smyly has shined this season, striking out 29 batters in 28 innings pitched in five starts.
With Turner regaining his confidence in the minors right now, the Tigers should groom him to be traded come late July. Yes, he's the best prospect in the system, but not all prospects are meant to become fixtures on their original teams.
The Tigers will need a dependable arm in the rotation heading down the stretch if they're to be considered a valid contender in the postseason. A veteran bat would be nice too. A second baseman who can hit around .280 and play solid defense would be just right.
Both of these things can be procured by dealing Turner this season. If 2012 is truly to end in glory for the Tigers, GM Dave Dombrowski will pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.