Bullpen Targets for the Detroit Tigers


Jul 9, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Padres pitcher Joaquin Benoit (56) delivers a pitch during the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Rockies won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade deadline 10 days away, rumors are flying around the rumor mill and almost everyone agrees that the Detroit Tigers biggest need going into the deadline is bullpen help. Here are a list of potential arms for the Tigers to acquire by the trade deadline of July 31.

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Joaquin Benoit

Benoit has been the player mentioned most with the Tigers through the month of July. Benoit spent the last three season with the Tigers where he compiled a 2.89 ERA, a 1.075 WHIP, 28 saves and FIP of 3.39. This year, those numbers are 2.04 ERA, 0.857 WHIP, and 2.63 FIP.

The Tigers let Benoit walk without a qualifying offer in the offseason and some fans still have a bad taste in their mouths after the ALCS last season. Benoit won’t come cheap if the Houston Street trade is any indication, and Benoit is signed for 2 more years at $8 million per year. Benoit fits perfectly on paper, but this isn’t fantasy baseball. Could Benoit be the answer to help right the ship in the bullpen?

Joakim Soria

The other hot name that many have the Tigers linked is Soria. Tiger fans may remember Soria as the former closer for the Kansas City Royals prior to his reconstructive elbow surgery in 2012 which caused him to miss the season. Soria is now with the Texas Rangers where he is now closing games.

Soria has a 2.59 ERA, 0.798 WHIP, 16 saves, a career low FIP of 0.84., a career low BB/9 at 1.1, a career high K/9 of 12.1 and a career high K/BB of 10.50. Soria is a fantastic pitcher, and he will cost the Tigers a pretty penny to acquire, especially if the Rangers want the same haul as the Padres. If the Tigers don’t land Soria, the Baltimore Orioles could be a potential landing spot.

Koji Uehara

Uehara helped end the Tigers season last year closing games for the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox are 7-3 in their last 10 games, but are 46-52 on the season, 7.5 games out of first place in the AL East with a 2.4% chance of making the playoffs. The Red Sox may unload Uehara who is having another stellar season with a 1.58 ERA, 0.745 WHIP, but 2.65 FIP which could mean there could be in store.

It would make sense to move Uehara from the Red Sox perspective because Uehara is a free agent after this season and is in store for a raise, even though he is 39. Since Uehara is not a hard thrower and relies on movement, deception, and location, he may not have the regression of someone like Joe Nathan, who is also 39. Since he would be a rental, Uehara may not cost as much as Benoit and Soria who both have time left on their contracts.

Jonathan Papelbon

Papelbon is having his best season since moving to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012. His 1.17 ERA, 0.835 WHIP, and 2.35 FIP are by far his best numbers since he was a perennial All-Star in Boston. The Phillies are 11 games out in the NL East and are looking to unload salary making Papelbon expendable. Papelbon has 2 years left on his deal at $13 million each.

The Tigers may not have to give up a lot to acquire the Phillies closer, but he would be another big money hit in the bullpen, especially after signing Nathan to the 2-year $21 million deal. If the Tigers want the Phillies to eat the contract, they will have to pay in prospects.

LaTroy Hawkins

Hawkins is a bit of a reach, but he may come cheaper than the rest of the options on this list. The Colorado Rockies have the worst record in the NL and should be sellers at the deadline. Hawkins is signed through next season and is having one of the best seasons of his 20 year career.

Hawkins should come cheap, and has had an ERA under 3.65 since 2011. Hawkins has been well traveled, much like Octavio Dotel before he came to the Tigers and that worked out relatively well for the Tigers.

Brad Ziegler

Brad Ziegler is a name that I have not heard much, but he could be the most reasonable target. Ziegler has been in Arizona since 2011 since he was traded from the Oakland A’s. Ziegler has some closing experience with Oakland and Arizona, but has never compiled more than 13 saves in a season.

Ziegler has already pitched in 50 games this season, posting a 2.37 ERA, 1.054 WHIP, and 3.30 FIP. Ziegler is in Arizona who the Tigers will see for the next three days and may be auditioning for a spot in the Tigers bullpen. He would be my target. He’s cheap, he has a track record, and he could be in the bullpen for the next 2 seasons for less than most of the other targets.