MLB Trade Scenarios: 5 Pitching Targets Who Could Solidify Tigers' Rotation
The Tigers have won eight of their last nine games, and have moved into second place in the American League Central, just 2.5 games back of the first place Chicago White Sox.
Throughout much of the season's first half, while Detroit was badly struggling, rumors were flying that the Tigers were primed to make a trade to solidify their roster. But so far, the Tigers haven't made any moves outside the organization, and despite Detroit's resurgence, not making a trade to help the rotation could prove to be costly down the stretch.
The Tigers' starters are currently seventh in the AL with a 4.14 ERA and ninth in wins with 32.
Detroit has the best pitcher in baseball in Justin Verlander, who boasts a 10-5 record with a 2.43 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 140.2 innings and 19 starts. But after Verlander, all Tiger starters have been inconsistent at one point or another this season.
The Tigers' two biggest reasons for dabbling in the trade market have been No. 2 starter Doug Fister and No. 5 starter Drew Smyly.
Fister has been disappointing this season with a 4.39 ERA and has battled injuries that have seen him miss over six weeks of the year, and Smyly is currently on the disabled list for the second time since the middle of June.
Fister and mostly Smyly's uncertainty give the Tigers a reason to go out and get a legitimate, proven starter for their run at a division title.
Here are five pitching targets who could solidify the Tigers' rotation before the July 31 deadline:
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Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster has been the topic of trade discussions all season long, and now that the 35-year-old has thrown 33 consecutive scoreless innings and won his last five starts, his trade value is at an all-time high.
Dempster suffered a shoulder injury in the middle of June that turned off a lot of possible suitors, but since coming back, he hasn't missed a beat. He's 5-3 this season, with a NL-leading 1.86 ERA in 92 innings.
One issue that could keep Dempster in a Cubs uniform is that the right-hander has a full no-trade clause in his contract, so he'd have to agree to join the Tigers. But with the team Detroit has, the expectations of a playoff appearance, and possible trip to the World Series, the Tigers have a pretty good bargaining chip.
Let's face it, any team would be more promising to play for than the Cubs.
With Dempster leading the way on the hill, the Cubs have won 12 of their last 16 games, so they might be rethinking unloading most of their best talent, but they are the Cubs, who are always sellers at the deadline.
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The Philadelphia Phillies have been disappointing this season, sputtering out to a 40-51 record and a last place spot in the National League East.
The Phillies have quickly become possible sellers at the trading deadline and 28-year-old lefty and former first-round draft pick Cole Hamels has found himself on the trading block.
Hamels, who is 11-4 with a 3.07 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 18 starts this season, is in the last year of his contract with the Phillies and could be on the move.
The Phillies have gotten themselves into a contract mess with the $15 million going to Hamels this year, while also having to pay Cliff Lee $21.5 million, Joe Blanton $10.5 million, Jonathan Papelbon $11 million, Ryan Howard $20 million and Chase Utley $15 million.
Hamels has spent his entire six-plus-year career in Philadelphia, but with all the money being spent by the Phillies, Hamels may be the odd man out and could turn into a gift for another team.
According to SportsIllustrated.com, Philadelphia is reportedly trying to sign Hamels to a $120 million deal, but if they end up dealing Hamels, he'd be a great fit for the Tigers down the stretch.
With Smyly out, the Tigers don't have a single left-hander in the rotation, and Hamels has a championship pedigree and will give the Tigers a proven, veteran presence.
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Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young in 2009 and has been great this season for the 42-47 Milwaukee Brewers, going 9-3 with a 3.57 ERA.
The Brewers, who won the NL Central last season, currently sit in fourth place in the division, and are eight games back of first place. Reports have shown that Milwaukee may be trying to re-sign the 28-year-old, but what they could get in return might be too much to pass up.
Greinke is making $13.5 million this year, and with Tigers' owner Mike Illitch's deep pockets, the Tigers could afford the right-hander who spent seven seasons in Detroit's division with the Kansas City Royals, four of which he had an ERA less than four.
Greinke is eighth in the NL in strikeouts with 117, and among pitchers with at least 15 starts, he's 16th in the league with 28 walks. He's a consistent pitcher who knows AL central hitters and would be a valuable addition in Detroit.
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Cubs pitcher Matt Garza has been on the trading block all season, and he would be a nice fit in a Tigers uniform.
Garza has just a 5-7 record with a 4.02 ERA this season with the Cubs, but his numbers are a bit skewed by a terrible month of May when he went winless with a 6.86 ERA.
The 28-year-old right-hander's contract runs through 2013 which makes him attractive, and making $9.5 million and being several years younger than Dempster makes Garza a bit more valuable to the Tigers.
Garza proved with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 and 2010 that he can be a winner in clutch situations, and he is consistent enough to improve the Tigers' rotation. In 2008, Garza went 2-1 with a 3.96 ERA in four postseason starts, and in 2010, he gave up just one earned run in six innings in his only playoff start.
The Cubs are hearing several offers for Garza, and if the Tigers are willing to part ways with a quality prospect, Garza could make his way to Detroit.
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James Shields isn't having a great year for the Tampa Bay Rays, but because he went 16-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 11 complete games last season, he could be an attractive addition for the Tigers.
The Rays are tied for third place in the AL East but with the New York Yankees scorching the baseball and leading the division by nine games, Tampa Bay could be looking to make some deals.
Tampa is still in the second wild card race in the AL, but whether they determine they want to be sellers or buyers at the deadline, Shields might join the ranks of the sold, regardless.
The Rays are looking for another bat in their lineup, and Shields' struggles have made him expendable.
While making $8 million this year, Shields would be the least expensive option for the Tigers, and despite the bad first half this season, the 30-year-old right-hander has proved his consistency and worth in MLB. He's in his seventh year in the league and has only had one season with an ERA higher than five.
Some players just need a change of scenery, and for Shields, joining a contender and getting out of the devastating AL East might just be the thing to turn his season around.