Feb 27, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstopJose Iglesias
(1) throws to first base during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
News broke Saturday that Detroit Tigers’ shortstop Jose Iglesias could miss significant time during the 2014 regular season which could be until the All Star Break. Tigers” GM Dave Dombrowski said that Iglesias will start the season on the DL, but gave no further timetable on how much time Iglesias will miss. Iglesias is the future for the Tigers at shortstop as long as he can remain healthy which has been a bit of a problem with his shins.
Since Iglesias will not be with the team on Opening Day, the Tigers are going to need to find another option to play short. There are some in house options, as well as options out of the organization. Dombrowski also said that the Opening Day shortstop is most likely on the roster now.
Options inside of the Tigers’ organization include Steve Lombardozzi, Danny Worth, Eugenio Suarez, and Hernan Perez. Lombardozzi was acquired in the Doug Fister deal in the offseason as a backup utility infielder. Lombardozzi has pent time at short, but he is not a long-term replacement for Iglesias. The Tigers have shown what they think of Worth with the countless call-ups and send-downs over the past few years. If the Tigers believed that Worth could spend significant time at the big league level, he would have already been with the Tigers for more than a month and the Tigers wouldn’t have traded for Iglesias when Jhonny Peralta was suspended last season.
The two intriguing options in the system are Eugenio Suarez and Hernan Perez. Suarez is 22 an played most of last year with the Erie Seawolves, the Tigers’ AA team. In 111 games, Suarez had a .253/.332/.387 split and in 12 games with the Tigers this spring, he has a .273/.292/.318 split. Suarez is solid in the field and could be an interesting option if the Tiger go that way. He is most likely a short-term option of maybe a month unless he comes out on fire to start the season. Hernan Perez was with the Tigers for 34 games last season and in the postseason. In his 34 games with the Tigers, Perez had a .197/.217/.227 split. In the minors last season between AA and AAA, Perez’s batting average hovered around .300 with his OPS close to .730. Perez is known for his speed and can steal more than 30 bases in a season. He played 2nd last season in Omar Infante‘s absence, but can also play short. Perez is another option, but not a long-term fix.
Inside of the organization, it seems like the Tigers mostly have players that can provide a 3 week patch until the fans turn on the player for not being Iglesias and the player is sent down to the minors or just benched. Do not bring up Miguel Cabrera or Nick Castellanos at short, they can’t play the position, and Omar Visquel isn’t coming off of the bench to play short either.
Outside of the organization, there are a couple of different options. I know you’ve read the previous paragraphs and have been waiting for me to mention Stephen Drew. Yes, Stephen Drew is the front-runner for the job, regardless of what anyone says. Drew turned down a qualifying offer from the Boston Red Sox which was a 1-year $14.1 million deal, the same deal the Tigers did not offer Peralta. If the Tigers signed Drew, it would cost the team a draft pick, and probably around $10 million, I doubt Scott Boras will also Drew to sign for less. Nelson Cruz got a 1-year $8 million deal when he was pigeonholed into a deal with the Orioles, and Drew will get about the same money. Drew will be a fix until Iglesias gets back, but he will be a costly one.
The trade market does not have a bevy of shortstops available either. Nick Franklin may be available from the Seattle Mariners because of the signing of Robinon Cano, but he doesn’t fit the mold of a defense first shortstop. The Arizona Diamondbacks have an extra shortstop, and Didi Gregorius may be the odd man out in the rotation. He’s young and cheap, but the D-backs won’t give Gregorius up cheap.
The best case scenario for the Tigers is that the injury to Iglesias’s injury is not as severe as people believe and the Tigers can fill the role in house until he is healthy.