MLB Trade Scenarios: 10 Options the Detroit Tigers Should Pursue
The MLB Trade Deadline is still 55 days away, but after a third of the season, the Tigers find themselves at 25-30, in third place in American League Central Division, and six games back of the first-place Chicago White Sox.
The Tigers have tried to adjust pretty much everything they could with their lineup in the first 55 games of the season, but nothing has seemed to work consistently.
Detroit's longest winning streak this season is four games, which they achieved twice—first in the opening four games of the season, and again a week later, April 15 through 18.
Since the Tigers' sweep of Kansas City on April 18 when they were 9-3, Detroit's futility has been not only astronomical, but head-scratching and frustrating, with a loaded roster that everyone picked to breeze through the division.
The Tigers have been on the wrong end of three separate sweeps, suffered through a five-game losing streak and had a 38-day stretch without winning back-to-back games.
The AL Central is statistically one of the worst divisions in baseball with only the White Sox boasting a positive run difference this season, so the Tigers are by no means out of the pennant race. And with all the expectations this season, Detroit will definitely be a buyer at the deadline, still looking to contend for the pennant.
Last week, I offered 10 pieces the Tigers could use as trade bait, and here are 10 options the Tigers should consider going after before the July 31 deadline.
1. Placido Polanco
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The list could probably end here if the Tigers acquired second baseman, Placido Polanco.
Polanco played four-and-a-half seasons in Detroit after being acquired by the Tigers on June 8, 2005, in exchange for Ramon Martinez and Ugueth Urbina.
Polanco was a fan-favorite, hitting .313, with a .356 on-base percentage with the Tigers, and was rock-solid at second, committing just 19 errors in 3,112 chances at second base, wearing the Old English D.
Polanco was the 2006 ALCS MVP in the Tigers run to the World Series, and was an All-Star in 2007. He won Gold Gloves in 2007 (did not commit an error in 141 games) and 2009 (committed just two errors in 151 games).
When Polanco's contract ended after the 2009 season, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski did not offer him an extension, fearing Polanco wanted more money than Detroit was willing to pay him. So Polanco signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, but for much less than Dombrowski anticipated.
He became the every day third baseman for the Phillies, and at 33 years old, has played 50-of-56 games this season, averaging .292 (.323 OBP), with just one error in 117 chances.
The Tigers second base platoon has been abysmal this season, with Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn, Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth combining to average .187, good for second-worst in MLB.
Polanco's three-year deal with the Phillies ends after this season, and Philadelphia tried to deal his $6.25 million contract multiple times before Opening Day, so they are definitely willing to negotiate.
Polanco's stability, and veteran leadership could be what Tigers need to get out of the season-long funk they are struggling through.
The fans in Detroit would be ecstatic to welcome Polanco back, too.
2. Starlin Castro
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The Chicago Cubs shortstop is hitting .305 this season with four home runs and 32 RBI, but the 22-year-old is on thin ice with Cubs manager, Dale Sveum.
Castro has made some mental mistakes in this third MLB season and despite hitting .304 in his first two-and-a-third Major League seasons, he has been in Sveum's dog house all year, which makes him expendable.
He has good speed and is a decent base-stealing threat, which the Tigers desperately need
Castro would replace 30-year-old Jhonny Peralta, who is hitting .247 this year, with 16 RBI. Peralta has lost a step defensively, his range has diminished and he is making $5.25 million in his final year of his contract, compared to Castro's $567,000 deal.
The Cubs are in last place in the National League Central, and as sellers at the deadline, they could look to deal the youngster that gives them headaches in the clubhouse, and acquire a veteran.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland is famous for acquiring potentially distracting players and getting the best out of them in the clubhouse, and on the field.
3. Matt Thornton
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The White Sox recently named Addison Reed the team's official closer, which means Chicago could look to deal left-handed reliever, Matt Thornton's $5.5 million contract.
Thornton is 2-3 this season with a 3.42 ERA in 23.2 innings (28 appearances). His opponent's average is .261 this season, and he has a career-ERA of 3.52 and a 1.28 WHIP.
Thornton is a Centreville, Michigan native and played his college ball at Grand Valley State. Playing in Detroit would be somewhat of a homecoming for the 35-year-old in his ninth year in the league, and he would give the Tigers a proven left-handed arm in the back end of one of baseball's worst bullpens.
Detroit relievers are 10-10 with a 4.33 ERA this season, which is second-to-last in the AL. The Tigers bullpen's opponent average is dead last in the AL at .256, and they have the second-most blown saves with eight.
Thornton has been the White Sox closer on and off throughout his time on the South side, and with Jose Valverde struggling the way he is, Thornton could step into the closer role if need be, or could settle in as a dependable setup man.
4. Alfonso Soriano
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The Cubs are looking to get rid of veteran second baseman, Alfonso Soriano, and the Tigers would be happy to have him.
Soriano has played in Chicago since 2007, primarily playing left field for the Cubs. But the 36-year-old played most of his career at second base, and could fit in nicely at second as another veteran presence for the Tigers.
Soriano is hitting .263 (.312 OBP), with eight home runs and 34 RBI in 50 games this season. He has a huge contract with two years left on an $18 million deal, but if the Tigers can acquire him just for this season, and he produces, they can deal him at season's end, hoping to develop another second baseman.
Soriano can play pretty much anywhere on the field and as a two-time World Champion in five years with the New York Yankees, the 14-year veteran has seen it all, and would not shy away from the big stage.
5. Brett Myers
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Brett Myers began his career as a starter, but moved to the closer for the Houston Astros this season.
Myers has proven himself at both ends of the game on the mound for the Astros, and his versatility could be intriguing for the Tigers.
Jose Valverde has had a major setback season after his All-Star campaign last year, going all of 2011 without blowing a save, converting 49-for-49 save opportunities. This season, the Tigers closer has already blown three saves in 12 chances, and has a 4.64 ERA.
Myers has converted 13 saves in 14 chances in his first year as the Astros closer, and has a 1.86 ERA. His K/BB ratio is 5-to-1 and his WHIP is .083.
Myers could relieve Valverde in the bullpen if 'Papa Grande' continues to struggle, or could fill in to spot-start situations in emergencies for Detroit.
With his starting experience, he could also come in for long relief when starters struggle to get into the later innings.
6. Jurickson Profar
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19-year-old Jurickson Profar was named by Baseball America as the Texas Rangers No. 1 prospect, and the No. 7 prospect, overall after the 2011 season.
The shortstop made his professional baseball debut at 17 years old for the Rangers Single-A Spokane Indians, and hit .250 in 63 games in 2010. Last season with Texas' elevated Single-A Hickory Crawdads, Profar hit .286 (.390 OBP), with 12 home runs, 65 RBI and 23 stolen bases in 123 games.
This season for Double-A Frisco, Profar is hitting .287, with six home runs, 24 RBI and seven steals in 54 games, but the No. 1 Rangers prospect will not likely get a shot with Texas anytime as 23-year-old Elvis Andrus will be anchored at shortstop for a long time.
Profar had a 24-game hitting streak this season, and leads his team with 19 extra base hits, just a few months after 19th birthday.
With Andrus hitting .311 with an OBP of nearly .400, a contract that runs through 2014 and the Rangers in first place in the AL West, Texas might look to deal its phenom prospect for the right combination of players in return.
7. Ryan Dempster
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Ryan Dempster is the third Cub on this list, and has been the subject of trade rumors all season.
Dempster made the move from the bullpen to the starting rotation in 2008, and has averaged 33 starts per year with an ERA of 3.82 since becoming a starter.
He is 1-3 this season, but has a 2.59 ERA and receives some of the NL's worst run support, getting under four runs per game in his 10 starts.
Dempster is in the final year of his four-year, $52 million contract, and could help the Tigers this season if the back end starters continue to struggle. The Cubs are more-than-willing to hear offers for Dempster considering he is 35 and Chicago seems to always be sellers at the deadline.
Dempster is a 15-year veteran with a 4.37 career ERA. He has spent the last eight-plus seasons in Chicago and has been in the NL his entire career, so his acquisition for the Tigers in the AL would give Dempster a fresh start against many players who have not seen him much before.
8. Michael Bourn
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Michael Bourn is in his last year of a $6.8 million deal and has quickly emerged as one of the Atlanta Braves' best players, but he has expressed interest in leaving Atlanta.
Bourn is hitting .300, with five home runs and 16 RBI in 54 games this season, and has an on-base percentage of .353 and 15 steals.
He can hit leadoff if the Tigers hobbled center fielder, Austin Jackson does not rebound from his injury as quickly as the Tigers hope. With Delmon Young's on and off-field issues, and Andy Dirks youth and inexperience, the Tigers could use a dependable outfielder, who is a legitimate base-stealing threat every time he is on the paths.
He can play every outfield position, and with his speed and athleticism, Bourn has only committed 14 errors in 1,667 chances in his career.
The Tigers do not have the best corner outfielders in the world, and Bourn's contract is reasonable enough to negotiate after the season on signing a new deal with the Tigers, or possibly letting him go.
9. Carl Pavano
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The Minnesota Twins are just bad this season, sitting in the AL Central basement at 21-33, and will definitely be looking to unload players at the deadline.
Carl Pavano is just 2-5 this season with a 6.00 ERA, but he has a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has only received 3.36 runs per game in his 11 starts this year. He is on the 15-day DL right now, but has not had injury problems lately, and since 2009, Pavano has had an ERA less than 4.50.
The Tigers oldest starter is Justin Verlander at 29 years old, and at age 36, Pavano could give the Tigers a veteran option if some of the young pitchers at the bottom of the rotation struggle down the stretch.
Pavano has a big contract, so the Tigers would not look to retain the right-hander after this season, but Detroit could use the veteran as a full-time starter, in spot-start situations, or in the bullpen during its 2012 pennant run.
10. Marco Scutaro
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If you have not guessed yet, I think the Tigers should pursue a potential replacement at second base before the deadline this year.
Marco Scutaro is hitting .257 (.316 OBP) in his first year with the Colorado Rockies, and now playing with his fifth team in 11 years, Scutaro is not a stranger to the trade market.
He plays shortstop as well as second base, and has only committed 15 errors in over 1,500 career chances at second. He is a career .270 hitter, and provides the Tigers a veteran, low-maintenance presence in the clubhouse.
Scutaro spent the last two seasons with the Boston Red Sox, where he hit .284/.343/.401 with 151 runs, 18 home runs and 110 RBI in 263 games.
He shows flashes of power with his bat, and is a steady defender that can play both middle infield positions, and because he is in the last year of a $6 million deal the Rockies picked up, the Tigers could negotiate with him at season's end, depending on his production for the rest of the year.