Detroit Tigers – Neither a Buyer or a Seller?


As the trade deadline looms over Major League Baseball, Detroit Tigers fans wait on the edge of their chairs to see what Dave Dombrowski will do – buy or sell?  In the past days it has been reported by the big media – USA Today and ESPN that the Tigers are indeed going to be sellers.

Dombrowski has been quoted as saying, “”We’re at a point where we have to do what’s best in our heart for the franchise.”  The media pundits are spinning this to mean that he will sell off to rebuild or retool.  But couldn’t it also mean that he will buy to try to seize the opportunity for the franchise to win this year?  Add depth to finally win that championship?  There are a lot smarter people out there than me and who know baseball better.  But maybe it’s a ploy by Dave D. to make the phone ring and then have conversations about buying.

Many Tiger fans now want to point to the depleted farm system, scream and holler at Dave Dombrowski and say “how dare you!?!”  But Dombrowski has been the master mind architect behind putting together a great manager in Leyland to come to Detroit, get the talent he needed to get to two World Series, four American League Championship series and four straight Central Division titles.

There are multiple factors as to whether the Tigers will buy, sell or do neither.  First, what Dombrowski wants to do is somewhat irrelevant if the market place isn’t there.  Ever want your stock to trade higher so you can sell it?  We all have, but the market doesn’t offer that sometimes.  Same thing is true when your stock is down and you need to sell it.  Second, the Tigers don’t NEED to buy or sell.

Let’s look at both of these factors.

First, let’s analyze the marketplace.  Who are the true buyers?  Let’s say that there are eight solid buyers – Baltimore, Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Eight.  That’s not a ton.  Who are the true sellers?  Let’s say that there are seven real sellers – Boston, Chicago White Sox, Oakland, Seattle, Cincinnati, Colorado and Philadelphia.  That leaves fifteen teams that don’t feel a need to either bolster their rosters or sell off players.  Some might have a player or two to move due to free agency. But the market is not vast at all.

Now between these teams they must have the right stocks or assets to make a market match.  Let’s analyze the Tigers for a moment.  They need starting pitching if they are going to be buyers.  What do the selling teams need?  Probably young starting pitching or young hitters.  Do the Tigers have either of these?  Not really.  Stephen Moya maybe is trade bait.  James McCann, Andrew Romine possibly.  Dombrowski won’t give his core young players in Jose Iglesias or J.D. Martinez .  The selling teams listed above might have some starting pitchers  – Johnny Cueto in Cincinnati, Cole Hamels in Philadelphia, Scott Kazmir in Oakland, Jeff Samardzija in Chicago.  But most of these would be rental players as well.  The market doesn’t seem to be in the Tigers favor.

Second, do the Tigers really need to buy or sell?  Last year both wild card teams went on to the World Series. Is it possible the Tigers could as well?  Could they go on a hot run and get there?  It’s not likely as we look at this team today, but it’s certainly not impossible.  It would be a shame wouldn’t it, if the Tigers “sold” David Price and Yoenis Cespedes and  then Alfredo Simon and Shane Greene get their groove back and Justin Verlander starts to pitch great.  Also consider this – what do the Tigers truly get in this marketplace for Price and Cespedes now for a four-month rental?  You won’t trade them to Kansas City.  The Cardinals and Dodgers will look at this as a nice to have but not a necessity. Not worth giving up much.  So why put the white flag up when you don’t necessarily need to.

I’m starting to think that the MLB trade deadline will be a bit like Y2K for many Tigers fans.  A lot of anticipation and then it was just January 1, 2000.  Let’s give Dombrowski the credit for whatever decision the he and the Illitch family make.  But let’s not be shocked if nothing happens.