Detroit Tigers Trade Options: 10 Potential Pieces They Could Use as Bait

Josh Berenter@JBerenterCorrespondent IMay 31, 2012

Detroit Tigers Trade Options: 10 Potential Pieces They Could Use as Bait

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    "The only thing that has been consistent about us is our inconsistency."

    Manager Jim Leyland said that to Fox Sports Detroit after a May 17 loss to Minnesota, which pretty much sums up the season the Detroit Tigers have had so far.

    The Tigers have continued to sputter under .500, and now more than a quarter of the way through the season, it might be time to think about making some moves.

    Something just hasn't clicked with the Tigers this season. When the offense has flourished, the bullpen has struggled. When the the bullpen and rotation get hot, the bats cool off. There is something missing for the team expected to make back-to-back trips to the postseason for the first time in nearly 80 years.

    I don't think any drastic moves need to be made, like firing Leyland, as many people have suggested. No superstars like Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander need to be moved. But something has to change, because if Detroit continues to struggle with its team intact, it might be too late in a few months.

    Here are the 10 options the Tigers could use as trade bait this season.

1. Delmon Young

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    The way things have taken shape this season, and with the realization that Victor Martinez will return to the Tigers lineup at some point, Detroit doesn't really need Delmon Young.

    Andy Dirks has emerged as the real deal this season, hitting .328 (.379 OBP) with four home runs and 16 RBI in 35 games. Dirks plays a much better left field than Young, playing in the field pretty much every day without committing an error in 46 chances.

    Because of Dirks' emergence, Young has been relegated to designated hitter, but the Tigers' injured DH, Victor Martinez, could return earlier than expected, according to a USA Today article in April.

    Steve Gardner reported Martinez may not need his second scheduled knee surgery and could return as early as August.

    So with Dirks raking and Martinez possibly due back this season, the Tigers should look to deal Young.

    Especially because of Young's off-field issues.

    He was arrested on April 27 on charges of aggravated harassment after yelling anti-Semitic remarks at someone in New York.

    The matter hasn't been settled yet, which adds to the headache Young causes. He famously heaved a bat at an umpire as a minor leaguer in the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2008, and was suspended for 50 games.

    While the Tigers are in a pennant race, they don't need Young's distraction, especially because of the pieces they have replacing him.

    But other teams looking to acquire a decent-hitting outfielder might find Young's services attractive. He's a career .286 hitter with 74 home runs and 424 RBI. When he's on, he can take games over offensively, and a team looking for a quick fix at the trade deadline might be looking to acquire him. 

2. Jacob Turner

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    Jacob Turner was a phenom prospect when the Tigers selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft.

    He remains Detroit's brightest starting pitching prospect in the minors and if the Tigers want to trade him, now would be the best time to do it.

    Turner fought for the No. 5 starting job in spring training, but the spot would eventually go to Drew Smyly. Smyly has exceeded expectations in his rookie year, with a 3.14 ERA and a 2-1 record in nine starts. The Tigers have a good, young rotation with the MVP as the elder statesman at 29 years old. 

    A young starter isn't the biggest necessity for the Tigers, and probably won't be for a few years. The Tigers can trade the 21-year-old Turner for several good players on a losing team, or prospects at other positions for the future.

3. Nick Castellanos

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    Nick Castellanos has been tagged as the future of the Tigers, and to some people he is considered an untouchable prospect. But because Castellanos plays third base, there may not be a need for him when he's ready for the big leagues.

    Miguel Cabrera has moved back to third base this season after the Tigers signed Prince Fielder to play first, and Cabrera has done a pretty well at the hot corner.

    Castellanos, the 44th overall selection in the 2010 draft, is putting together a tremendous season Class-A Lakeland, and several teams have started paying attention.

    ESPN's Keith Law ranked Castellanos the No. 37 prospect in his Top 100 list in February. After a torrid start this season, he's moved up the list, becoming more and more valuable.

    The 20-year-old is hitting .411 with 16 doubles, two home runs and 28 RBI, and he's flirting with a .500 on-base percentage at .472. reported that Law went into detail about Castellanos' progression, stating:
    He's destroying the Florida State League (.411 BA) and getting better as the season goes along; the defense is adequate, slightly awkward at times but good enough that he should stay there long-term...No power yet, but that will come with age and once he gets out of the power-dampening FSL.
    The Tigers could get a boatload of talent right now for Castellanos, and address a need for a third baseman far down the line. Cabrera is 29 years old, and with four years still left on his contract, he'll be anchoring third base in Detroit for a while.

4. Quintin Berry

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    As much as I wouldn't like the move because he's given the Tigers a much-needed energy boost, Quintin Berry would be very tempting bait in the trade market.

    Berry's hit .294 with a .368 on-base percentage, with two RBI and three stolen bases in his first eight major league games with the Tigers. 

    He made a highlight-reel leaping catch against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, which introduced him to the national public. His quick start has captured people's attention, which makes him a commodity.

    The Tigers don't know if Berry will sustain his early success in MLB and they also have good, young outfielders who could all turn out to be stars. He plays center field, and won't replace Austin Jackson in the lineup when Jackson returns from the DL. And he's left-handed, so it wouldn't make much sense to platoon him with Dirks or Brennan Boesch.

    So if you try to deal Berry and get something promising in return for either this year's postseason run, or for a second-base prospect that the Tigers badly need, dealing Berry would be worth it.

5. Don Kelly

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    Don Kelly has been a quality utility player for the Tigers since 2009, but has never broken through to earn an everyday starting spot. 

    Despite hitting just .164 this season, Kelly is a career .243 hitter, whose on-base percentage is nearly .300 in his fifth year of MLB service.

    Kelly, who made an appearance on the mound for Detroit last season, can literally play anywhere on the field and has only committed seven errors in his last 143 games.

    He could be an attractive addition for a defensively challenged team.

6. Octavio Dotel

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    Octavio Dotel is no stranger to the trade market.

    The journeyman has played for 13 different teams, and has changed teams 14 times in his 13-plus years in MLB. He's been good for the Tigers this season, with a 3.31 ERA in 16.1 innings. Dotel is 1-2 in 19 appearances this year, and he's struck out 22 batters, compared to just four walks.

    But he's 38 years old, and no one knows what he'll do down the stretch.

7. Max Scherzer

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    Scherzer has shown flashes of brilliance in his time with the Tigers. But he's also shown glimpses of futility too. He hasn't been consistent in a rotation that desperately needs dependable performance from a mid-level starter.

    Despite going unbeaten since April 29, including three wins in his last four starts and a 15-strikeout gem against Pittsburgh, Scherzer has a 5.67 ERA this season and hasn't had an ERA under three since joining the Tigers in 2010.

    He's a strikeout machine, already accruing 72 Ks through 54 innings this year, which would definitely garner some interest from non-contending teams looking to build for the future. 

    The Tigers could trade Scherzer for a veteran arm on a bad team to help the rotation down the stretch, or they could look to acquire a left-handed bat with speed that could help the Tigers' offensive woes.

8. Brayan Villarreal

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    Brayan Villarreal has pitched very well when he's gotten the opportunity this season for the Tigers.

    Villarreal has been seldom used, but in his eight appearances, he's yet to be charged with an earned run, has a 1-1 record with two holds and has allowed two unearned runs.

    He's struck out 14 batters in nine innings of work and has only allowed two walks. The 25-year-old second-year player from Venezuela could give the Tigers some positive return in the trade market.

    Villarreal would be a good candidate to trade now to get maximum value. His potential would be attractive to teams looking to unload a veteran bat in exchange for a young right-handed arm in the bullpen.

9. Jhonny Peralta

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    Jhonny Peralta is one of the more steady shortstops in the American League, but at 30 years old, in his ninth year in MLB, Peralta is making $5.5 million per year and only hitting .244 this season with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 45 games.

    Peralta made the All-Star team last season, but has regressed a quarter of the way through 2012. He makes the necessary plays at shortstop, but his range is dwindling and his offense hasn't been a bright spot.

    Because he's in the last year of his contract, one that the Tigers purchased from the Cleveland Indians, it would be wise to deal him and try to get something in return.

10. Ryan Raburn

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    Let's be honest with ourselves. No one in their right mind would take Ryan Raburn at this point, especially since the Tigers optioned the 31-year-old second baseman to Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday night.

    But it's worth a shot to put him on the list.

    There's really nothing to say about Raburn's worth for other teams, considering he hit .146 with one home run and seven RBI in 37 games this season before finally being sent down to Triple-A.

    But even if no one picks up his $2 million contract, which no team realistically will, Raburn not being in the Tigers lineup every day, and players and coaches not having to field questions about his futility, will help the team.