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Detroit Tigers: Why the Team Could Trade Jose Iglesias

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If the trades for both Francisco Rodriguez and Cameron Maybin have taught us anything, it is that Al Avila and the rest of the Detroit Tigers’ staff are actively trying to improve the ball club.

The team has resorted to dealing from surplus. Middle-infield prospect Javier Betancourt was dealt for Rodriguez while prospect Gabe Speier and underperforming reliever Ian Krol were flipped for Maybin.

Despite the additions of Rodriguez and Maybin, the Tigers still have a number of needs. Signing a few starting pitchers is perhaps the most obvious set of moves. Besides that, a few extra relievers could do. It also wouldn’t hurt to bring in another option in left field.

With a significant amount of salary likely being saved to hand to new additions in the rotation, the Tigers may be running out of salary-cap space. There’s always the trade market, but Avila probably doesn’t want to tear down his farm system just months after attempting to rebuild it. There’s always trading from the big-league roster, but Detroit likely doesn’t want to subtract too much from a team that only won 74 games in 2015.

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The one area where the Tigers have depth is at shortstop. We’ve already seen a prospect who can play the position (Betancourt) get dealt. Could another shortstop also be traded? The team does have two quality ones in Jose Iglesias and Dixon Machado.

Obviously Detroit won’t want to give away either player for cheap. But it does raise the question, if you were Avila and the right opportunity presented itself to improve the team for now and later, would you think twice before trading Iglesias?

Why Iglesias Could be Traded 

Sep 6, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Dixon Machado (49) makes a throw to first after Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Martinez (1) dives in safely in the sixth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The main reason Iglesias could conceivably be moved is depth. Fellow shortstop Dixon Machado is certainly ready to be on a big-league roster, and is knocking on the door in terms of playing everyday in the majors. Like Iglesias, Machado excels with the glove. MLB.com calls Machado a shortstop with “plus hands and arm to go along with outstanding range.”

To top things off, the shortstop hit .261 in Triple-A this year to put to bed any notion that he is an all-glove type of player. Machado also added 22 doubles, 48 RBI, 15 stolen bases and four home runs in 127 games for the Toledo Mud Hens. This earned him a call-up to the Tigers late in the season.

In 24 games with the Tigers, Machado only hit .235, but showed excellent discipline at the plate. He did struck out 14 times, but drew seven walks. The rookie added three doubles, five RBI and a stolen base in only 68 at bats.

What Teams Need a Shortstop

Naturally, if there isn’t really a market, there won’t be a ton of interest. Or rather, if there’s no teams that need a shortstop, the team might as well hang on to Iglesias. Fortunately for the Tigers, there are a number of teams without a shortstop.

  • The Colorado Rockies. Colorado does have top shortstop prospect Brendan Rodgers in the minors, but he was just drafted and won’t be hitting at Coors Field for a few years. Jose Reyes is the team’s current starter, but he is being investigated by Major League Baseball for alleged domestic violence, something he recently plead not guilty to, according to ESPN. USA Today states that the shortstop “will become the first player subject to Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.” Factoring in that, Reyes’ age (32) and that he only hit .259 after arriving in Colorado, the Rockies could move on. Even if Reyes is still under contract with them, the team could seek both an upgrade and placeholder at shortstop to man the position until Rodgers is ready. Additionally, the Rockies could move Rodgers off shortstop, so Iglesias may hold even more appeal for Colorado.
  • The San Diego Padres. The Padres currently deploy converted second baseman Jedd Gyorko at shortstop. The infielder only hit .247 last season with a .649 OPS. His WAR was only 0.5 and his defense didn’t certainly win him any fielding awards. The team’s only other options are the light-hitting Alexi Amarista and Jose Pirela. The need is definitely there. 
  • The Atlanta Braves. After trading away Andrelton Simmons, the team’s shortstop of the future is now Ozhaino Albies. However, Albies is currently in Single-A. Erick Aybar, acquired as part of the Simmons deal, is the team’s current shortstop. Aybar’s contract expires at the end of the season, and given that the Braves are in rebuilding mode, the team may trade Aybar during the season to add even more assets. Iglesias would be the perfect alternative. Not only is he young, but Atlanta could eventually move him or Albies to second base once Albies is ready. Jace Peterson currently starts at second base, but he could be moved to third base for the long haul as the team’s current starter there is Adonis Garcia. Garcia is 30-years-old and isn’t likely a part of the Braves’ long-term plans.
  • The New York Mets. If the Mets lose Daniel Murphy via free agency, the team’s projected middle-infield pairing would be Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera. Flores was solid in 2015, batting .263 with 16 home runs and 59 RBI. However, Herrera has only appeared in 49 career games at the major-league level. He’s a .215 hitter in those game. The Mets could shift Flores to second and put Iglesias at shortstop.

What Kind of Player Could the Tigers Acquire for Iglesias?

Shortstop is a premium position and the Tigers have a good one in Jose Iglesias. They may end up keeping him, but if he is dealt, a much better player would likely come back to Detroit. Here are some of the players from the aforementioned teams that could fit in a trade for Iglesias.

  • The Colorado Rockies

On a rebuilding Colorado team, the only real prize here is Carlos Gonzalez. Obviously Iglesias for Gonzalez in a straight swap isn’t going to cut it, but perhaps if Steven Moya is added to the equation things could work out. Moya could be the next home run king in the majors, or he could strikeout so much that it offsets his power. Sending that uncertainty and Iglesias to Colorado for Gonzalez could pay massive dividends for the Tigers.

Sep 25, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez (5) singles in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The man dubbed “CarGo” is an all-around threat. In other words, he excels at everything. The outfielder has won three gold gloves, two silver sluggers and a batting title. He’s also mashed 40 home runs in a season. Yes, his salary is quite high and the Tigers seem to be making an effort to move away from big contracts, but Gonzalez may be worth it. A career .290 hitter, CarGo averages 31 home runs and 98 RBI per season. Additionally, the outfielder is only under contract through 2017. He is only scheduled to make $37 million over those two seasons. In an offseason where Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist could conceivably receive contracts that eclipse Gonzalez’ in terms of value, $37 million seems like a bargain.

It may be that Iglesias and Moya alone aren’t enough to acquire Gonzalez, but as long the deal doesn’t involve Daniel Norris or Michael Fulmer, Carlos Gonzalez would be a fit in Detroit.

  • The San Diego Padres

While the Rockies had a definite player that stood out in terms of value, the Padres don’t. The team is likely to hold onto the young players with potential that are under contract (Wil Myers or Cory Spangenberg) while veteran players like Matt Kemp and James Shields are simply too expensive. San Diego does have a pair of intriguing relievers in Brandon Maurer and Kevin Quackenbush, but Avila seems unlikely to sell off Iglesias for two non-closing bullpen arms. A larger deal for pitcher Tyson Ross would help the Tigers. Though San Diego is short on rotation arms, the team is clearly rebuilding. Trading away the 28-year-old Ross for a solid return would speed up that process.

A deal sending Iglesias and one or two young starters (some combination of Luis Cessa, Shane Greene or Matt Boyd) could work. Boyd would be particularly effective in spacious Petco Park given his tendency to live up in the zone and get a significant number of outs via the fly out.

  • The Atlanta Braves

The Tigers need starting pitching, and unless some kind of deal with Iglesias can fetch Shelby Miller or Julio Teheran, these two teams may not match up so well. Atlanta’s roster is littered with young players and veterans on bad contracts. The team’s most useable trade chips are in the farm system, but seeing as two relatively young players in Simmons and Maybin were dealt for prospect the Braves would deal from the team’s stash of prospects. Arodys Vizcaino is an interesting name to watch. The 25-year-old reliever pitched to a sparkling 1.60 ERA and nine saves in 33.2 innings for Atlanta in 2015. He would provide quite the bullpen pairing with newly acquired Francisco Rodriguez.

Mar 9, 2015; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) throws against the Miami Marlins during the spring training baseball game at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

  • The New York Mets 

New York needs a shortstop and has exactly what the Tigers need—young pitching. Zack Wheeler is the obvious candidate to be moved. The pitcher was almost dealt to the Brewers in a deal for Carlos Gomez. His name certainly made the rounds at the trade deadline. If Detroit can get Wheeler for Iglesias, it would be a win. If the shortstop alone isn’t enough, perhaps the Tigers could sweeten the pot with Bruce Rondon. After all, the Mets have shown an affinity for acquiring former Detroit players.

In Conclusion

Jose Iglesias may not be the most obvious pick, but he is the Tigers’ most tradeable chip. Coming off an All-Star season where he hit .300, Iglesias’ value may never be higher. Additionally, the team has a ready-made replacement in Dixon Machado.

There is obvious appeal in keeping Iglesias and Machado around long-term thanks to the defensive strengths of the duo. However, there is also obvious appeal in dealing Iglesias.

The shortstop has made countless highlight-reel plays as a Tiger, but only posted a 0.4 dWAR in 2015. Andrew Romine’s dWAR in 2015 was 1.4.

Trading Iglesias could open up a long-term place for prospect JaCoby Jones. Jones could play a number of positions across the diamond, but may find a home at second base if Iglesias is dealt and Machado is moved to shortstop.

The team probably shouldn’t be actively looking to trade Iglesias to the point where they can’t receive fair value. However, if the right offer comes along, Avila shouldn’t think twice. Machado is ready, and if dealing Iglesias significantly improves the long-term outlook in the rotation or in left field, the Detroit Tigers should make the trade.  

Next: Four Potential Under-the Radar Pitching Additions

That’s my opinion, what’s yours? Would you trade Jose Iglesias?

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