Over the past few weeks I have seen some varying reactions to trade talk on Twitter and fan-sites (including here at MCB). John and Chris both brought up the question of whether or not the Tigers should be sellers. There, of course, has also been discussion on whether or not the Tigers should be buyers prior to the July 31st deadline. While I actually occupy both positions, my main concern is the price the Tigers pay to acquire the pieces they feel they need. In other words – don’t sell the farm.
The Tigers have two significant trade chips in Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos, both of whom occupy areas of need long-term for the Tigers. As I am sure most everyone is well aware, the Tigers Farm System is far from flush with prospects. While they have some talent that is valued outside of the organization, most of the players inside the system look to be organizational types rather than superstars in the making. There are some writers who are very familiar with the Tigers system (John Verburg here and Mark Anderson and Paul Wezner over at TigsTown), so I will direct you to them in regards to questions about specific players. However, the overall ideaof trading one or both of the Tigers top prospects does not sit well with me. While people can point to the Miguel Cabrera deal as evidence that this could work, I don’t see any future hall of famers that can be acquired by the Tigers right now.
While each season IS important, the overall structure of the franchise should trump needs of a season. Each year fans and writers lament the lack of depth within the Tigers system (unless you are Lynn Henning and each week you write about Rob Brantly getting traded) and yet they condemn the Tigers for not making trades in the off-season or prior to the deadline. We can’t have it both ways though. If the Tigers are going to build up their system, they can’t be trading the prize farm hands for everyday MLBers. Last year, some balked at the price paid for the addition of Doug Fister and instead felt the Tigers should have upped the ante for Ubaldo Jiminez. It turns out, that the price paid was just fine and that Fister, not Jiminez, was the real jewel of the trade deadline.
This is probably all for naught though. Dave Dombrowski tends not to deal premium talent during the season, instead waiting to do so for the more even buying time of the off-season when there are not just a few clubs controlling the trade market. The Tigers (as of this post) are 3 games out in the AL central with still a lot of season left to play. They are starting to return to health too, so management should get a couple weeks to gauge just what the team will be going forward. I expect them to make a deal, whether it is for another OF bat or a 2B, I think there will be a new face or two on the Tigers roster after July 31. I also expect them to look into selling off some MLB pieces. Perhaps instead of Jacob Turner being dealt to the Cubs for Matt Garza, it will be Rick Porcello instead. Maybe instead of Nick Castellanos to the Astros for Jed Lowrie or Jose Altuve, it will be Brennan Boesch and a combination of A-Ball talents.
The Tigers may need more than just one bat or arm to help them climb the mountain this year and that is why dealing away top talent is a mistake. Whatever needs they have this year, they are also likely to have that same ones (or more) next year…and it sure would be a lot easier to fill that void with a high-profile player from within rather than pay a premium for average MLB talent out on the open market.