Mar 8, 2014; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz (19) hits a two run home run against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
According to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago, the Detroit Tigers have had a scout watching two Chicago Cubs players that could fill holes caused by spring injuries.
"In need of outfield and infield help, the Detroit Tigers have their top scout watching the Cubs this week. Outfielder Nate Schierholtz and middle infielder Darwin Barney are both being evaluated by Tigers long-time executive Scott Reid."
Nate Schierholtz is a left-handed hitting outfielder who, like Andy Dirks, probably isn’t suited to handle the position every day, but his career line versus right-handed pitching is slightly above average (101 wRC+) and he plays above average defense in either corner.
Schierholtz, now 30 years old, has garnered more than 500 plate appearances in just one season in his major league career, but he’s been solidly valuable in his role, averaging just about 2.0 WAR per 600 plate appearances. He would be somewhat redundant if and when Andy Dirks returns to full health, but he’d give the team another better-than-Don-Kelly option off the bench down the stretch, which would be nice.
Schierholtz, who’s due to earn $5 million in 2014, is eligible for free agency following the season, so acquiring him could only be thought of as a one-year rental. $5 million for a part-time (1.0-1.5 WAR-ish) player isn’t a huge steal, so the return package shouldn’t have to be huge.
Darwin Barney cannot hit at all. Let’s be clear on that. But his career .628 OPS may not be any worse that what internal options Danny Worth, Eugenio Suarez, and Hernan Perez could put up. But, possibly unlike those options, Barney has a glove that could might be able to play at an at-least-MLB-average level at the shortstop position. He’s played primarily second base with the Cubs (who have Starlin Castro at shortstop), but he rates excellently both overall and in the range category by UZR. I’m not ready to say that just because he hasn’t played much shortstop in the big leagues, that he can’t do it.
2014 represent’s Barney’s first year of arbitration eligibility, so the Tigers could potentially control him for two additional seasons. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a spot for him beyond being a fill-in for the upcoming season.
I think Schierholtz would be a nice fit with the Tigers – providing the price is right – but Barney would be less of a sure thing. He could very well be an upgrade over Worth or Suarez, but I don’t know if we can say that for sure.
The two combined are set to earn $7.3 million in 2014.