The addition of Jose Iglesias, a brilliant defender, should make the Tigers a better team for a long time. (Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

Jose Iglesias Improves Detroit Tigers Now and Later

Tuesday night, the Detroit Tigers added shortstop Jose Iglesias in a three-team deal, sending Avisail Garcia to the Chicago White Sox and Brayan Villarreal to the Boston Red Sox. This has plenty of implications, but if you’re a Tigers fan, this should simply be fantastic news. Iglesias should improve his new club both now and in the long run.

It seems Dave Dombrowski knows something we don’t about Jhonny Peralta. The shortstop replacement has arrived in advance of Peralta’s apparently impending 50-game suspension, which Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports will come late this week.

Biogenesis-related penalties, which will affect a large group of major league players, are expected to come all at once after the implicated players agree to accept. The delay in that process—Alex Rodriguez seems determined to appeal any suspension—could be the reason Iglesias is not scheduled to report to Detroit until Friday.

But when the 23-year-old infielder does join the Tigers, he’ll be a welcome addition. Iglesias will fill the gap—and then some, on defense—presumably soon to be left by Peralta—great. But he’s also going to be around for a long time. He’s on track to be under team control through 2018. For a franchise which lacks a veritable middle infield prospect, and has long relied on standbys and veterans at those positions, he’s a breath of fresh air.

For a long-term acquisition, the Cuban and Miami native is a perfect fit. That’s because he’s the opposite of every other player on the Detroit infield. Iglesias is said to be one of the finest defensive shortstops in the game today. He also elicits comparisons to the best in history. Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com said after the trade Iglesias “may be the best defensive shortstop I’ve seen since Omar Vizquel or Ozzie Smith.” His glove should make the Tigers, certainly not in need of another offensive player, a more balanced club.

As many have suggested, the fielding upgrade will also be nice for guys like Rick Porcello and Doug Fister. The Detroit starting staff as a whole ranks fourth in baseball in both BABIP and groundball rate. But that pair, respectively, leads qualified major league pitchers in groundball to fly ball ratio. With Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on the corners, putting gloves in the infield is a smart move with either of those two on the mound.

On top of his golden glove, Iglesias has some promise on offense. He has never earned his money for his work at the plate. Further, his unsustainably good numbers for the first half of this season have begun to fade away. But as his stats plummeted, many signs of development went generally unnoticed. This month, Matt Sullivan of OverTheMonster.com highlighted positive changes in strikeouts, line drives, walks, and more.

The acquisition of Iglesias comes days after the Tigers exchanged outfield prospect Danry Vasquez for reliever Jose Veras. Essentially, this week, Dombrowski has taken an organizational surplus of outfielders, and traded it to fill two immediate needs—a reliever and a shortstop. Garcia and Vasquez were both good prospects, but they will be better prospects to another team. With Nick Castellanos, now almost certainly destined for a career started in the outfield, Austin Jackson, Austin Schotts, and Tyler Collins, Detroit probably won’t miss either of their recently departed prospects in great measure.

Finally, as icing on the cake for what appears to be an incredibly shrewd move on the part of Dombrowski, Iglesias is making just $2.06 million this year, compared to Peralta’s salary of $6 million. This is a great trade all-around for the Tigers.

Peralta will likely have served his suspension come playoff time, which could create a logjam if Detroit welcomes him back. But hopefully we have that to worry about in September.

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