Without naming names, Dombrowski said Tigers had been in talks with a team with a 3B that isn’t going anywhere. Read: Aramis Ramirez
I thought that note about Ramirez was intriguing for the same reasons Sam did. If the Tigers were willing to go after a “big fish” for a position that they themselves admitted was not their top priority, how big might they be dreaming about a starting pitcher?
As Beck noted in his piece for MLB.com today, the Tigers have been linked to at least half a dozen starting pitchers so far, either between rumors reported or scouts sighted at games. Chances are very good that they’ve been at least discussing several others as well. To this point in the season, Detroit has used a left hander in that fifth rotation spot each time it came around, though there have been four different starters in that group. Obviously, it would at least appear that Dave Dombrowski would be targeting a southpaw there via trade as well, but I doubt that means they are looking at lefties only.
In my mind, the fact that the three starters used in place of Phil Coke this year are all fellow southpaws is more coincidental than anything. Andy Oliver, Charlie Furbush, and Duane Below were all on the short list of major-league-ready arms; the only right hander that could have been deemed “ready” is Jacob Turner and the club doesn’t want to rush him. I do think that in a perfect world, Dombrowski would like his starting pitcher upgrade to be left handed, but I don’t think the Tigers would take less interest in a quality starter if that guy happens to throw with his right arm, either.
While the Tigers have been linked to Colorado right hander Ubaldo Jimenez, the word is that the Rockies are in no hurry to move him and that any offer from Detroit would have to start with Turner. I have written many times over the years that I am always in favor of dealing prospects for known-quantities like Jimenez, but the idea of trading Turner does make me very nervous.
When you look at some of the other names that have been kicked around the internet, I think the chances of landing a good starter without having to include Turner are more realistic. Of course, those clubs will still ask about his availability, but I think that if a deal will cost them Turner it won’t happen.
If the Tigers are in position to take on salary, as the idea of trading for Ramirez would indicate, the package of prospects tends to get less significant. When you’re dealing with salary dumps, you should be looking at guys like Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers at the top of the list. Kuroda has a no-trade clause he negotiated into his one-year $10 million deal he signed this past winter, so getting around that could be dicey, but he would figure to cost the least in terms of prospects among the names to which the Tigers have been linked.
If the Tigers have their sights set on someone signed beyond this year, such as James Shields of Tampa, the cost will be higher and the package (if it can be done without Turner) would surely start with Oliver, but also likely include one or two other fairly good names (think Bryan Holaday, Ryan Perry, Casey Crosby, Furbush, maybe Ryan Strieby if he has any value left).
Some of the second-tier starters like Jeremy Guthrie or Aaron Harang would come at cheaper prices and may offer just as much bang. These deals would cost more than what the club gave up to get Betemit, but far less than the potential cost of a guy like Shields. Still, I wouldn’t be shocked if Oliver had to be included to get either of those guys, not that it would upset me if he were.
The only names that should be off limits, in my mind anyway, are Turner and Nick Castellanos (who technically can’t be traded before August 15, but could be a Player to be Named Later in a trade before that date). If Dombroswki is at least open to discussing anyone else, the Tigers should be able to land the starter they seek. If it’s Wandy Rodriguez or Kuroda or Harang, the Tigers will have done well. If it’s Shields, they will have done very well.