Trading Armando Galarraga May Make Sense for Detroit Tigers

Matt SCorrespondent IMay 28, 2009

DETROIT - APRIL 10:  Armando Galarraga #58 of the Detroit Tigers throws a fourth inning pitch while playing the Texas Rangers during Opening Day on April 10, 2009 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 15-2.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The July 31 trade deadline is still two months away—a relatively small blip on the radar screen, to be sure, but the trade winds seem to always blow in baseball.

The Detroit Tigers, who many presumed would be weak in starting pitching, may soon have a surplus of hurlers ready, willing, and able to take the ball every fifth day. As a result of this reversal of fortunes, the Tigers may be in the rare position of “selling” at the deadline while remaining a strong playoff contender.

If Jeremy Bonderman can return to form and pitch effectively, Jim Leyland and the Tigers brass will have a decision to make.

Justin Verlander (5-2, 3.55 ERA), Edwin Jackson (4-3, 2.58 ERA), and rookie Rick Porcello (6-3, 3.48 ERA) have all exceeded expectations this year, and Dontrelle Willis (1-1, 3.57 ERA) has earned a long look after showing flashes of returning to previous glory.

That leaves Bonderman and Galarraga fighting for the elusive fifth spot in the rotation.

The loser of the (figurative) Bonderman-Galarraga rumble would most likely be relegated to the bullpen.

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Herein lies the problem.

The Tigers already sport two long men in Nate Roberson and Zach Miner, the back of the bullpen is solid with Bobby Seay, Joel Zumaya, and Fernando Rodney, and Ryan Perry has been effective in middle relief.

The way I see it, Jim Leyland et al. have two options.

The first option consists of releasing either Robertson or Lyon, who can be called ineffective at best this year, opening a spot for Armando in the bullpen.

Option two would be to trade Lyon, Robertson, or Galarraga himself.

Robertson is probably untradeable. The Tigers would have to eat the majority of his $7.0 million contract and would still probably only receive a low level minor leaguer who has never heard the word “prospect.” Nate’s only redeeming quality seems to be that he is left-handed.

Lyon may draw the attention of a team in dire need of bullpen help, but the Tigers would still not see much quality in return.

Galarraga, on the other hand, may be the only available Tiger pitcher who would command good value in a trade. Last year, Armando was by far the ace of the staff, winning in 13 of his 20 decisions while posting a sub-four earned run average.

General managers across the league may look at his success last year, his relative youth (27), and low risk salary ($435,000), and decide to pony up.

The closer Armando comes to returning to last year’s dominance, the sweeter the Tigers' half of the deal would become.

Obviously, the Tigers don’t need to trade Armando, but if another team gets desperate come July, I would like to see the Tigers pull the trigger on a deal.