The MLB trading deadline is fast approaching. A 2-1 loss yesterday against the Chicago White Sox probably increased the likelihood that Detroit Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski is piling up his anytime minutes today looking for a fifth starter.
A win yesterday would see the Tigers with a semi-comfortable 3 game lead over the stumbling Cleveland Indians and a 5 1/2 game lead over the underachieving Chicago White Sox, instead the division is as muddled as ever with only 3 1/2 games separating the three teams.
Pending the outcome of the next couple games, the Tigers appear they will be holding onto a very tenuous lead as the trade deadline greets us. With a GM and Manager in contract years, a revolving door of rookies filing the last rotation spot and an owner anxious for a division title, it very likely means something big is coming.
Based upon rumors, that could mean at the expense of the Tigers top position prospect, low-A West Michigan's third baseman Nick Castellanos.
Any deal involving Castellanos means a middle of the rotation starter in return and is a full five-finger slap in the face that front office is very unsure of their ability to win the division as the team is.
In my opinion, dealing Castellanos would be a mistake. The Tigers are good enough to win this division with the rotation and lineup that they have and Castellanos is one of the few position player bright spots of the Tigers farm system.
Would you give up Nick Castellanos or Jacob Turner to guarantee an AL Central?
Ironically, what could lead to Castellanos being dealt is the Tigers next best positional prospect is also a third baseman who's further along in the system--AA Erie's Francisco Martinez. Martinez, however, doesn't have quite the same bright future that Castellanos appears to have an may be better served as a DH or corner outfielder--he has a .908 fielding percentage at third.
Instead, the Tiger should focus on another bullpen arm. Al Albuquerque again seems to be having injury issues, Phil Coke's return to the bullpen has been about as successful as dime beer night and David Purcey is the reincarnation of Jason Grilli.
Who can you trust in the bullpen outside of a healthy Albuquerque, Joaquin Benoit or Jose Valverde in a save situation? No one.
With Dunn's awful season in the Chicago and the injuries in Cleveland and Minnesota, the Tigers have the best lineup in the AL Central.
You can pencil Justin Verlander in for a quality start every time he takes the mound, Max Scherzer is quietly rounding into form as a solid number two, Rick Porcello has been better and Brad Penny is good enough to keep you in games.
If they're compelled to acquire a starter, the Tigers shouldn't break the farm system on a Wandy Rodriguez or Jeremy Guthrie despite the pressure on Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland.
Rather the Tigers' brass needs to focus on an option that won't cost them Castellanos or Jacob Turner. Either within the system, or a reclamation project, doesn't matter--just stay the course.
The AL Central, with or without another starter, is theirs to lose.