Detroit Tigers should look at Eugenio Suarez to replace Jose Iglesias, not the other options


Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Monday didn’t bring the greatest news for fans of the Detroit Tigers.

After the disappointing announcement regarding the recent Andy Dirks injury, another Tiger will be sidelined for quite a bit of time.  Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias confirmed has stress fractures in both of his shins.

So, what should the Tigers do?

Dave Dombrowski has said that the Tigers would look internally, similar to the left field situation, but recent reports have said Dombrowski has done some shopping as well.

Dombrowski should hang up the phones, his best options are right in his own organization.

Hernan Perez and Eugenio Suarez should be competing for the job with Steve Lombardozzi backing him up as well as playing some left field in the absence of Dirks.

Both Perez and Suarez should be playing full-time in 2014 whether that is with the Tigers or in the minors.  The safe play would be to go with Perez, who has some major league experience, but Suarez seems like the better fit.

Suarez, rated by Baseball America as the No. 8 Tigers prospect, is a natural shortstop who is known more for his defensive play than his bat.  Suarez wasn’t an awful hitter in the minors by means (wRC+ over 100 at each stop so far), but he has zero at-bats above the AA level.

The plan was to have Iglesias hit at the bottom of the Tigers’s order and be a defensive stalwart at shortstop.  The light-hitting Iglesias wasn’t expected to provide much with the bat anyway (his 2014 Oliver projected slash line is .261/.310/.347).  I wasn’t expecting to see Iglesias tear the cover off the ball in 2014 either.

Last season, Iglesias had a slash line of .303/.349/.386 between both the Tigers and the Boston Red Sox.  His batting average in 2014 could be projected over 40 points lower than 2013’s average because of his outrageous BABIP of .356.  Despite hitting so well and playing much better defense than what Jhonny Peralta had previously provided, Iglesias produced a WAR of only 1.8 in 2014.

If the Tigers were to acquire another shortstop, it would only hurt the organization more than help it.

Stephen Drew could possibly come to the Tigers on a one-year deal, but that deal would be between $8-10 million and a first round draft pick, neither of which the Tigers can afford to lose.  Drew just comes at too high of a price for what he would bring to the Tigers on the field (Oliver projects him to have a WAR of 1.8 in 2014).

St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma has been mentioned as a possible fit for the Tigers, but I tend to disagree, and Jon Morosi offered a good reason why on Twitter:

So, that’s not happening.

Nick Franklin and Didi Gregorius have also been names thrown out there, but those guys were similar prospects to Suarez in 2013 and 2012, respectively.  Franklin was rated by baseball America as the No. 5 prospect for the Seattle Mariners in 2013 and Gregorius the No. 8 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization in 2012.

The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Gregorious in a three-team deal before the 2013 season and played well in 103 games for the Diamondbacks.  Gregorious produced a WAR of 1.8 similar to Iglesias.

If the Tigers acquire either player, then the Iglesias injury is more serious than what organization originally thought.  Franklin and Gregorious won’t be eligible for free agency until the end of the decade,so while they would be cheap players now, they would be part of the future as well.  Neither players are one-year rentals so acquiring one of these players could be the organization saying that Iglesias’ shins are a long-term issue.

Suarez also makes sense on the field for many reasons.  He is young, but the veteran Tigers team won’t be putting any pressure on the young shortstop to be an All-Star out of the gate.  The players would expect Suarez to play solid defense in the middle infield and provide a decent punch at the bottom of the lineup.

The Tigers also have one of the top rotations in the American League to carry them through the first half of 2014 as well.  The three-headed monster of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez will be relied on heavily this year, but these three are among the best in baseball.  We know Verlander and Scherzer’s accolades, but the sometimes overlooked Sanchez quietly had a tremendous season last year.

Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly can provide many effective innings at the back end of the rotation in addition to Verlander, Scherzer and Sanchez at the top.

The lineup isn’t so bad, either.  It may lack the old-fashioned power some think it needs (Castellanos could provide a little more pop than previously planned), but they have quality hitters littered throughout their lineup which includes the best hitter on the planet, Miguel Cabrera.

The Tigers should give Suarez a shot to start at shortstop while giving consideration to Perez.  They haven’t even played one game in the regular season yet after many offseason changes.  The Tigers are showing patience with the left field situation, so why not at shortstop?  It is a more premium position but many teams have won many games without having one of the best shortstops in the majors.

Give Suarez or Perez their chance at the beginning of the season.  The team around them is built to win and will do so many times in 2014.