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Detroit Tigers: Could Detroit Trade for an Ace?

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Apr 27, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Aug 8, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers executive vice president and general manager Al Avila before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

How Detroit Would Go About Acquiring Sonny Gray

It isn’t clear what kind of return Oakland would want for Gray. However, considering that he’s struggling and that fellow potential trade chip Rich Hill recently exited a start after “Aggravating a blister on his left middle finger,” (per MLB.com), the A’s could conceivably be more open to dealing Gray.

One proposal that would seem to work for all parties would see Detroit send Matt Boyd, Austin Kubitza, Steven Moya, Kade Scivicque and Mike Aviles to Oakland for Gray, Danny Valencia and Coco Crisp.

On the surface, this may seem like a trade that mortgages the future, but it’s far from it. Gray is only two years older than Boyd, and (obviously) much more of a finished product. What’s more, Kubitza and Scivicque are blocked on the organizational depth chart in the starting rotation and behind the plate.

Prospects like Matt Manning, Kyle Funkhouser, Beau Burrows, Tyler Alexander and Jairo Labourt all figure to have higher ceilings than Kubitza, while Spencer Turnbull, Kevin Ziomek and Myles Jaye also provide starting depth.

At catcher, Detroit is set with James McCann for what will hopefully be another eight to 10 years. When Jarrod Saltalamacchia eventually moves on, John Hicks will likely fill in as McCann’s deputy. Elsewhere, Arvicent Perez and Grayson Greiner are moving through the ranks in the low minors.

In terms of Moya, the outfielder has tremendous power, but remains a work in progress in the field. If he can improve up that, Detroit should hang on to him. However, if he continues to struggle, the Tigers should deal him in the right deal—like for Gray.

It’s not as if the team doesn’t have long-term outfield depth.

Top prospect Christin Stewart is excelling in the lower minors, and could be in Detroit sooner rather than later. Additionally, JaCoby Jones should make the Tigers out of Spring Training next season, while Tyler Collins presents a solid all-around option at the Major League level. This is all without mentioning incumbent starters J.D. Martinez, Cameron Maybin and Justin Upton. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the trio stay in Detroit for the long term.

Initially thought to bring a blend of defensive flexibility and some pop to the bench, Mike Aviles has simply provided defensive flexibility. The utility player has struggled at the dish, posting a .266 on-base percentage.

Detroit would bring in a significant upgrade in the hypothetical deal by acquiring Valencia, who is hitting .304 with 12 home runs and 33 RBI. Valencia has seen time at third base, first base, second base and both corner outfield positions in his career.

Rounding out the deal is Coco Crisp. Detroit would be taking on the rest of Crisp’s salary for Oakland to help facilitate the deal.

Per MLBTradeRumors.com, the outfielder has a $13 million option for next season that “vests at 550 plate appearances or 130 games played in 2016. So far, Crisp has logged 309 plate appearances and played in 74 games.

By adding Crisp, the Tigers would allow the A’s to continue playing without having to worry about Crisp’s contract potentially vesting for next season. The veteran outfielder would play in a reserve role for Brad Ausmus’ club and wouldn’t come close to reaching the stats needed to have his contract vest.

Next: Triple-A Players Who Could Help the Detroit Tigers

Detroit could also add Mark Lowe’s contract to the deal to somewhat even out the salaries.

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