The Detroit Tigers have a glaring hole at second base this season.
Will Rhymes, Scott Sizemore, and Ryan Raburn haven't fared well in their time at second. The Tigers' front office suggests that they will address the position internally (likely with the return of Carlos Guillen from the DL) rather than with a trade.
There are not many big names on the trading block at second base this season anyhow. But these are a few possibilities should Detroit decide to go the trade route.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs are not likely to move Baker. He is making a relatively low salary of 1.18M this season and will be entering an arbitration-eligible season next year. The Cubs will still have team control of him.
While the Tigers do not want to break the bank to acquire Baker, Dave Dombrowski may be able to pry the utility man away from the Cubs. Chicago does have youngster Darwin Barney to fall back on.
Baker, 30, is hitting .304/.324/.422 in 139 plate appearances this year. Slotted into the 2 spot in the batting order, he would make an excellent table-setter for the likes of Brennan Boesch, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez.
He can also play third base and the corner outfield spots, positions the Tigers are also needing to upgrade.
Keppinger's name has been linked to the Tigers, Giants, and Cardinals since returning from a stint on the DL with foot surgery. He returned to the lineup with some solid production, hitting .328/.346/.424 with two home runs since the end of May.
The Astros seem willing to part with Keppinger as they are clearly not contenders this year and they do have Matt Downs as a fill in
His $2.3M salary is a bit expensive for what he brings to the table. But with Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland both in the final year of their respective contracts, it is no time to pinch pennies.
The 31-year-old can also play other positions around the infield and outfield. This makes him that much more attractive when you consider the disappointments that have been Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez and Ryan Raburn.
Keppinger is arbitration-eligible next season which would provide the Tigers with some flexibility moving forward as well.
Adam Kennedy is an intriguing possibility for a few reasons.
He has more experience than most of the other trade candidates and his contract is a minuscule $750k one-year deal. Kennedy could also be packaged with Brandon League or Erik Bedard to shore up the Tigers pitching staff at the same time.
At 35 years old Kennedy is clearly not a long term answer. But he would bring a veteran presence to the clubhouse and he is quietly having a solid year at the plate with 6 HRs and 30 RBI at the All-Star break.
A mix of Kennedy, Guillen and Santiago could work nicely.
Jamey Carroll is another player who could be packaged with an arm to help out the starting rotation. The Tigers already have an interest in Hiroki Kuroda and Carroll is an inexpensive option who can not only play second base, but third base and the outfield as well.
Carroll is an ideal top of the order player, sporting a .376 OBP this season. He would help out the sluggers in the middle of the Tigers order who are often batting with no base-runners.
Detroit would likely not have to add much to a deal for Kuroda in order to get Carroll tossed in.
The Tigers best option at second base may be to not make a trade at all. Carlos Guillen will be returning shortly from the DL and while he is perpetually injured, he is still productive when healthy.
Ramon Santiago has been the Tigers ultimate utility man but has never been given the reins as a full time player. If he was ever given a shot at the starting position I believe he would be a very serviceable option, even if it was just to help keep Guillen healthy and fresh.
Regardless of which route the Tigers decide to take, they do need to address the issues at second base if they expect to get deep into the playoffs this season. The jobs of Jim Leyland and Dave Dombrowski may depend on it.