To Trade Or Not To Trade?

Last off-season, David Dombrowski made his decisions quickly, re-signing both Jhonny Peralta and Brandon Inge to two year extensions, and going out in aggressively signing free agents Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit to substantial contracts. He also re-signed Magglio Ordonez, and while his extensions and the re-signing of Ordonez were a mixed bag of success, nobody can dispute the effect Benoit and Martinez had on the 2011 squad.

It begs the question…..

How is David Dombrowski going to improve the team for 2012?

In an article I posted just a few days ago, I touched on a few of the areas in which the Tigers could be looking to improve. I don’t want to get into specific names in this article, but rather the method in which the Tigers are going to be able to acquire players to help them get a step further to the World Series next season. Last year, David Dombrowski successfully used free agency to his advantage. Two years ago, the Tigers dealt both Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson to obtain four players; Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, and Daniel Schlereth.

The cop out answer of course to the above question is to say that the Tigers are going to use a combination of both free agency and trading, and that is probably true to some extent. However, the 2011-12 free agency pool is disturbingly weak. On the pitching side, C.J. Wilson of the Rangers, and ex- Tiger Edwin Jackson are two of the bigger names out there. Position wise, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes, and Jimmy Rollins head the list of players, and the Tigers aren’t going to be in the market for Fielder, and likely not Reyes or Rollins either.

But do the Tigers even need to make the kind of splash that Reyes would provide?

Probably not. This is a team that made the playoffs this past season after all. I don’t believe that standing pat is the answer, but despite the multiple areas on the team that could use improvement (2nd and 3rd base the most desperate), the Tigers do play in the A.L. Central and should be able to compete as is. Nobody in the Central appears to be an imminent threat to the Tigers next season, though with some health the Twins could potentially bounce back. This means the Tigers could just make a couple of modest moves and go at it again in 2012, and they could probably do that in free agency.

Given that David Dombrowski has never been a huge dabbler in the free agent market, and while the Tigers have some money coming off the books, I still get the feeling there is going to be some players on the move in the trade market. Why? Dombrowski is good at it, and he knows that staying stagnant is rarely the best solution in the world of baseball. I don’t think he wants to idly stand by and watch other teams in the division make attempts to get better. Also, he created some flexibility on his roster by making the Doug Fister deal at the trade deadline this season.

The old baseball axiom you can never have enough pitching is generally true, but with the free agent market looking thin, dealing from a relative strength because of a little depth is one way the Tigers could find a long term 2nd baseman. There is no one in the minor league pipeline at 2nd base that looks ready to take over at least for 3 years, and maybe not at all. Moving one of our starters could net the Tigers a young, cheap, 2nd base option, that could hopefully hit at the top of the order.

I’m not saying that Rick Porcello or Max Scherzer is definitely on the move, I am just saying be prepared for that possibility Tigers fans. Or, maybe the Tigers continue to deal from a relatively thin minor league system?

Another factor in the direction the Tigers could go this off-season is aging owner Mike Ilitch. Ilitch has already mentioned that he expects the Tigers to be in play for a big bat, as he is urgently searching for a World Series title. Given that an owner’s wishes could trump the direction that Dave Dombrowski wants to go, it might tie his hands a little in the trade market.

This undoubtedly is going to be an interesting off-season. The Tigers are a good team, but could stand to add a little more talent to this roster. That may be true of every team, but with the Tigers being so close, it will be interesting to see how Dombrowski and company go about doing it.

Topics: Austin Jackson, C.J. Wilson, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Schlereth, David Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers, Doug Fister, Edwin Jackson, Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes, Phil Coke, Prince Fielder, Rick Porcello

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  • ChrisHannum

    He already added a starter and a replacement for Magglio Ordonez… are there any second basemen on the trade market better than Kelly Johnson?

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @ChrisHannum I don’t know who is available on the trade market at this point. Its not like teams put up a sign, come and get my 2nd baseman. Maybe the Nats are willing to deal a Espinoza for the right price though. And I would take that over Kelly Johnson. Nobody knew Max Scherzer was available either at the time. If Kelly Johnson is the basket fans are putting their eggs into, I don’t know how I feel about that one.

      • ChrisHannum

        @MCBjohnverburg That’s definitely the basket my eggs are in, though if the final Elias rankings make him a type-A instead of the projected B that would change things completely.

        • MCBjohnverburg

          @ChrisHannum His inconsistency would steer me away from him personally, unless its a pretty friendly contract. Its difficult to sign a guy to a 3 year deal if you only get one good one from him, especially if he is a type A free agent like you say.

        • ChrisHannum

          @MCBjohnverburg If his two bad years are 2 WAR year and his one good one is a 6? I’d say he’s worth $20 mil over 3.

        • MCBjohnverburg

          @ChrisHannum The problem I have with that Chris is that those 2 years are out of his last 3. It would be different if we are talking his rookie year, but this is his recent output. Not saying he isn’t better than Santiago, and would be an improvement, just I would be cautious about dropping big dollars on him.

        • ChrisHannum

          @MCBjohnverburg All I’m saying is that his bad years aren’t even that bad.

  • BobbleHeadGuru

    Trade Delmon Young for Carl Crawford. Red Sox would likely make that deal straight up right now. You might even be able to get about $5-7M/year from the Red Sox.

    The Red Sox owner has declared that the Crawford deal to be a mistake. Wonder how Crawford feels about that statement given his fragile psyche?

    The Red Sox would be motivated as getting Crawford mostly off the books for the Red Sox means that they can go after a big free agent this year. For example, they can give Fielder the money he wants… to replace Big Papi at DH long term.

    Delmon is a better fit for the small LF in Fenway. Crawford works better in the huge LF of Comerica. Crawford’s skills are redundant with Ellsbury. They need RBI producers, not small ball guys. right handed Delmon could reasonably go .290/30/110 in Fenway protected by lefty handed AGON and not be too much of a liability in the field.

    Crawford would be a perfect fit in LF for the Tigers. Also, the media pressure would be a degree less, which should help make him a top offensive producer again.

  • BobbleHeadGuru

    Trade Delmon Young for Carl Crawford. Red Sox would likely make that deal straight up right now. You might even be able to get about $5-7M/year from the Red Sox.

    The Red Sox owner has declared that the Crawford deal to be a mistake. Wonder how Crawford feels about that statement given his fragile psyche?

    The Red Sox would be motivated as getting Crawford mostly off the books for the Red Sox means that they can go after a big free agent this year. For example, they can give Fielder the money he wants… to replace Big Papi at DH long term.

    Delmon is a better fit for the small LF in Fenway. Crawford would use his skills better in the huge LF of Comerica.

    Crawford’s skills have been eclipsed by Ellsbury. At this point, they need big RBI producers, not small ball guys.

    Right handed Delmon could reasonably go .290/30/115 in Fenway protected by lefty handed AGON and not be too much of a liability in the field.

    Crawford would be a perfect fit in LF for the Tigers. Also, the media pressure would be a degree less, which should help make him a top offensive catalyst again.

    • MCBjohnverburg

      @BobbleHeadGuru If the Red Sox made that trade it w ould make em look like idiots, but I would take it as a Tigers fan.

      • BobbleHeadGuru

        @MCBjohnverburg The key here is to take advantage of the Red Sox turmoil with their GM leaving and their owner looking to turn the page. Keep in mind that the Red Sox owner originally blocked the deal last offseason, but was convinced in the end.

        Making this trade for the Red Sox… coupled with getting Fielder (or other big name), points the blame on outgoing GM, Theo Epstein.

        From a political standpoint, the new GM would simply be cleaning up a mess of a contract and still landing a legit #3 hitter while clearing enough dollars to get a big free agent who would be a better fit. While there is not salary cap, there is a luxury tax that the Red Sox would like to avoid.(~$170M?)

        From their standpoint, they could essentially trade Crawford ($20M/year) and Big Papi ($12M) for Fielder ($24M?) and Young ($8M?). Without getting rid of Crawford’s contract, I am not sure they can afford Fielder.

        Ellsbury is now giving them exactly what they were hoping for in Crawford. Do they really need two of those guys?

        DD is very savvy. This is the type of “out of nowhere” move he could make.. especially if Illitch tells him to not worry about getting $s back from the Red Sox.

      • ChrisHannum

        @MCBjohnverburg@BobbleHeadGuru Crawford is massively overpaid, but I’m not sure that the Red Sox are the kind of organization to dump him for that reason alone.

        • BobbleHeadGuru

          @ChrisHannum@MCBjohnverburg Hard to classify the type of organization the Red Sox are right now as they do not have any organization… The new GM will want to quickly clean things up and put his stamp on the team.

          If not Crawford, then Youkilis could be a secondary option at 3rd base.

          Crawford is overpaid at $20M. However, is he at $16M?

          Crawford skill set could not be a better fit for Comerica (small ball, high OBP, high steals, huge range, not very strong arm is OK for a left fielder).

          If the Red Sox pay $5m/ or if Illitich does not care, the swap of Crawford for Young is a win/win for both teams.

  • spartynation1

    Absolutely, a 2nd or 3rd baseman with a legitimate bat would be the priority. Getting both would be like heaven, and also a pipe dream. The only 3B generating any buzz in the farm system that I am aware of is Castellanos, and I feel comfortable saying he probably wont be ready next year. Never know what DD may do, but you had it exactly right when you mentioned that Illitch isn’t going to be very patient at his age. There is some extra money to toss around, and they do have arms other teams would like. I’d be willing to bet that we get at least one new face for the lineup next season, with quality lumber in tow. Like it or not, Delmon may stay. Basically dreadful defense aside, he hit well in the playoffs.

  • Sam Genson

    I could see the Tigers making a trade to take a bloated contract off of another team’s hands…like the Sheff deal