Yesterday, Lynn Henning took up the case to make a trade for Mets third baseman David Wright. I’m not sure what this says about Henning, but I had read the same idea hours earlier over at Bleacher Report, a site known for it’s outlandish and often terrible reason and ideas. I immediately dismissed the B/R piece out-of-hand, both due to the site’s reputation (which this piece confirmed), and because, well, it’s just not something I can see the Tigers even inquiring about. Thinking more about it though, perhaps that’s why Henning was so in tune with what they had to say.
As mentioned last week, David Wright looks as if he will be available and the Tigers almost certainly will be among those clubs inquiring. The New York Mets third baseman is only 28 and has the bat, as well as the glove, to make third base an All-Star position in Detroit.
For his part, at least Henning was a bit more logical in his idea of potential trade chips. The B/R piece below makes a case that the Tigers’ offer should begin as follows:
You got to figure the Mets will be looking for a future third baseman to replace Wright, the Tigers are the perfect team. Bring in prospects Francisco Martinez and Nick Castellanos. While Martinez is more MLB ready right now, Castellanos has more upside for the future.
Even if you can ignore the obvious grammatical error, you cannot ignore the errors with his reasoning. For starters, Martinez is nowhere near close to MLB-ready and I’m not sold that he ever will be. Secondly, Castellanos was drafted in 2010 and didn’t sign until August. MLB rules prohibit the Tigers from trading him until at least one year after he was signed, meaning he cannot be included in any deal until after the non-waiver trade deadline has already passed.
Then there’s the issue of Brandon Inge. You know, they guy who currently holds the job that Wright would be brought in to take. Inge has had a terrible season thus far, but is it really bad enough that the Tigers would pull the plug after just 1/5 of the campaign? Remember, Inge was signed to a two-year deal this past off-season and he wasn’t signed for his bat. Yes, the Tigers should expect a bit more production from him than they’ve gotten so far, but how much more? Realistically, not a lot.
With a touch over 20 percent of the season completed, Inge is hitting a dismal .202 with just one home run (a game-winner) and 11 RBI. That puts him on pace for five long balls and 55 RBI this year. He still strikes out a lot and still doesn’t walk enough, but those things certainly aren’t a surprise to the Tigers.
If you want to look deeper into his numbers, you will see that his hitting just .260 on balls in play, 24 points below his career average. You’ll also see that his line drive rate is actually 1.5% higher than his career norm. In short, the Tigers can and should expect an uptick in his performance as the season wears on. Is he going to suddenly turn himself into a .300 hitter? Of course not, but the Tigers knew what they were getting when they signed him.
But just for the sake of fun, let’s assume the Tigers would not only inquire about a trade, but would be willing to part with the necessary pieces to get one of the games better all around third basemen, one who just so happens to be in the prime of his career. That price would be steep, no question, but let’s assume they want to do it and agree on a trade.
What then do they do about Inge?
This is where you all come together and shout “super utility player!” I just don’t think that’s gonna happen.
Inge is making $5.75 million a year this season and next. That is far too much to pay for a guy who would fill the same role as Don Kelly does for a tick over the league minimum. Not to mention that Inge wouldn’t be happy about being demoted. His knees will no longer allow him to catch, which takes away a big part of his value as a utility man.
The last time the Tigers brought in a guy to take Inge’s job, he talked openly about wanting to be traded. The problem is that his value on the trade market is likely at an all-time low right now. Inge also has full trade veto rights as a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the league, five with same club) so he can basically pick his destination. It’s easy to assume that if he wants out he’ll just blindly accept any deal, but remember, Inge and his family make their home in Michigan. I have doubts that he’ll be thrilled to suddenly have to spend so much time away from his wife and kids.
This is a process that could get uncomfortable for everyone very quickly. If Inge were to drag out the trade process, while also voicing his displeasure about being benched, it will become a distraction to the entire team. You think that Jim Leyland can keep him happy as a utility guy? There’s already not enough at bats to keep four outfielders happy, try adding Inge into the mix as well. He’d be lucky to see the field as often as Casper Wells has.
If you want to go get another third baseman, you had better be willing to release the biggest fan-favorite on the roster and eat the almost $10 million left on his deal. That’s the only way this works for the ball club. Will the organization be willing to dump their longest-tenured player?
I just can’t see it happening.