Are The Tigers Done Now?
By John Verburg
Maybe the better question is should the Tigers be done in the trade market?
I think the quick answer is probably yes. The Tigers look like they got the pieces that they both wanted and needed when they acquired SP Anibal Sanchez and 2B Omar Infante yesterday. They managed to do so without using their best prospect Nick Castellanos in a deal, and the deal, at least on paper, now makes the Tigers one of the more formidable teams in the American League.
With the addition of Sanchez, who is strong middle of the rotation starter, the Tigers pitching staff now goes 6 deep, with the 6th member of that group being rookie Drew Smyly who will more than likely finish the season in Toledo barring injury. It could be argued even the Tigers can go 7 deep if you include long reliever Duane Below who has shown adequate in spot starts in the past.
Omar Infante was brought in to shore up the most glaring weak spot on the team, and will almost assuredly do so. Even though Infante isn’t an on base machine, he is a much better hitter than the other options the Tigers have been running out there, and a better defender as well.
So they should be done right?
Well…maybe not. There is still somewhat of a question mark going on in the corner outfield for the Tigers. Yes, Brennan Boesch could be on his way to one of his famous hot streaks. If that is the case, then the Tigers could certainly put up with his terrible defense until the 7th inning. But is that something you want to count on? Boesch has looked like a guy that was going to break out a couple of times this season, only to go O for 4 days, while looking like a dancing bear in the outfield. Awkward doesn’t begin to describe Boesch’s approach to defense. Delmon Young isn’t much better, although you can count on the bat a little bit more. The Tigers have decided against using him in the outfield however, and that is one of the best ideas they have had in a while. Andy Dirks and Quintin Berry are also a part of the equation as well. Dirks’ question mark comes from his health. He looked like a guy that was claiming a right to play every day before he left with a slow healing Achilles’ heel injury. Berry has been like a stick of dynamite at times in the lineup and across Tigers nation. While his hitting has slowed, he has a knack to do something big, and that can’t be discounted. Still, he looks more like a part time player better suited to come off the bench instead of playing every day.
Count em’. That’s 5 guys for two corner outfield spots, and not a one is what you would consider a surefire every day player. So, there certainly could be an upgrade move to be made there. Ideally, the Tigers would still be in the market to acquire a guy like Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies, who the Phillies seem to be motivated to move at this point if reports are right. Thing is, Pence is expensive, and if he is going to cost Castellanos, then it wouldn’t be worth it to the Tigers. Pence is having arguably his worst season as a pro. Justin Upton, who is also struggling, offers a different scenario because of his youth, and would be worth Castellanos plus, however it seems like the Diamondbacks are now reluctant to do anything now, and could be waiting for the off-season.
Since a major upgrade doesn’t seem likely, it would suggest the Tigers should be done. Not necessarily. While I outlined all the issues of the Tigers corner outfielders, one thing that should jump out to people is the sheer number they have. The Tigers could actually trade one of them in order to get a prospect or two for their thin minor league system.
So no, the Tigers shouldn’t be done. They should be looking to sell one of their corner outfielders. The two with the most amount of value are going to be Brenna Boesch and Delmon Young. There are a couple of teams out there that are looking for some hitting. The Dodgers, Reds, and Pirates all have a need for someone to play LF. Young and Boesch could fit the bill if the Tigers were looking for a couple of prospects to add to the system. In Young’s case, it might bring the Tigers a couple of lower minor league guys with potential. Trading Young would also free up some money that the Tigers just took on as well.
Just to be clear. I don’t think the Tigers will do anything else, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. If they could find a way to upgrade a corner outfield spot without parting with Castellanos, they should probably do so. If they can’t upgrade, they could relieve that logjam of players by moving one of them, and suffer very little in the quality of play on the field. Would the Tigers really lose anything if Boesch DH’d every day and Dirks was their RF? Probably not.
The fear would be Dirks’ injury, and more than likely would hold Dombrowski from doing any selling.
With one week left until the deadline, it won’t be long before we know if the Tigers are done or not.