Ask and ye shall receive!
The Detroit Tigers today finally acknowledged the problem that is their third base situation by pulling the trigger on a trade with divison rival Kansas City. The new third baseman in Motown is Wilson Betemit. Minor leaguers Antonio Cruz (LHP) and Julio Rodriguez (C) , both currently in A-ball, are headed to the Royals.
Betemit, who has bounced around to now six major league teams after once ranking as high number eight among prospects in all of baseball, finally found a home with the Royals last year, posting an .885 OPS and 13 homers in 315 at bats. This season, Betemit came out of the gate quickly, but as the Royals fell out of contention, they saw fit to bring up Mike Moustakas from the minor leagues and left Betemit without a starting job.
The 29-year-old is hitting .281/.341/.409/.750 this season, ranking him as the best offensive third baseman in the AL Central thus far, a distinction he will keep as he moves to Detroit.
Considering that Betemit isn’t as good with the glove as either Brandon Inge or Don Kelly (he’s rated at -2.0 UZR this year and was -10.4 at third last season), the Tigers are trading a bit of defense for what they hope is a whole lot of offense. Betemit is expected to report to the Tigers tomorrow and should be ready by game time as the Tigers open a weekend series in Minnesota.
With Betemit now in the fold, there remains the issue of finding starting pitcher, something Dave Dombrowski remains steadfast in doing, saying that he is “currently in talks” to make a deal. The immediate decisions, however, will center around Inge and his future with the club.
Dombrowski said today in announcing this trade that the club will decide on Inge tomorrow, when Betemit reports, but that Betemit will be the club’s primary third baseman. Dombrowski would not address the Inge question directly, saying only that a corresponding roster move would be made when Betemit reports. That certainly sounds ominous enough to think that tonight could very well be the final game of Inge’s 10-year Tigers career.