Detroit Tigers: Angels a Trade Fit for Sanchez, Pelfrey

Jul 16, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) takes the ball to relieve starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (37) in the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 16, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus (7) takes the ball to relieve starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey (37) in the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers starters Mike Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez have struggled in 2016. With the Tigers in a position to contend this season, the team will need to shed struggling performs in order to field the best roster.

Detroit Tigers fans know all about Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey’s combined struggles in 2016. Entering Wednesday, the duo have combined for 20 losses and only seven victories.

Even after Tuesday’s display, Sanchez’ ERA still sits at an unsightly 6.60, while Pelfrey’s isn’t much better at 4.95. The duo’s combined WAR is -1.2.

In fact, if you take Sanchez, Pelfrey and Mark Lowe off the Detroit pitching staff, every Tigers pitcher with at least 29 innings owns a FIP of 4.19 or lower. Take away Matt Boyd, and the entire staff (with at least 29 innings pitched) has a FIP of 3.72 or lower. In other words, the Tigers have been a solid pitching team with the exception of the struggling starters.

Unfortunately, both player’s contracts make a trade away unlikely. Per Spotrac, Sanchez is earning $16.8 million this season and next before Detroit has a 2018 club option on the player.

They can buy him out for $5 million in 2018. Pelfrey is being paid $8 million per season through 2018. If you’re looking for contractual albatrosses, you’ve definitely found them.

In a perfect world, Sanchez and Pelfrey would pitch at a rate deserving of their contracts, but that has been far from the case. Just when you think either of the two is going to start to turn things around with a start or two that borders on being average or good, they get lit up in their next start.

The Tigers would need to get creative in order to move the two, or they’d likely need to eat some or most of either player’s remaining contracts. However, one team has just emerged as a potential fit.

Meet the Los Angeles Angels. Or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Or the Anaheim Angels. Whichever way you slice it, the Halos need starting pitching.

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Mired in the American League West Cellar at 42-52 entering Tuesday, the Angels are in dire need of pitching. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times, right-handed starter Nick Tropeano is likely headed for Tommy John surgery. The writer tweeted, “Nick Tropeano has medium to high-grade UCL tear in elbow. Will get second opinion but TJ surgery likely.”

This isn’t anything new to the Angels, who have also lost Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs to UCL tears. In addition to those three being on the shelf, C.J. Wilson won’t throw a pitch this season due to left shoulder surgery.

The remaining starting options for the Halos include Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker, Hector Santiago, Tim Lincecum and Jhoulys Chacin. Weaver and Lincecum have both struggled in 2016, and Shoemaker, Santiago and Chacin could all conceivably be dealt by a franchise with a barren farm system.

That same weak farm system could help Detroit send Sanchez or Pelfrey to Anaheim. The Halos likely wouldn’t have the prospects to make significant acquisitions elsewhere.

Additionally, Weaver, Wilson and Lincecum will be out of contract in the winter, so the Halos could be in need of starting pitchers for next year. Should Sanchez or Pelfrey be dealt there, the American League West club could try and get better results out of one or both before trying to deal them for better prospects at a later date.

Pelfrey seems like a better fit simply because the Angels may not want to burden themselves with another significant contract. The deals for Wilson, Weaver, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton haven’t exactly worked out, and Andrelton Simmons and Mike Trout are still locked in at a premium for the next four seasons.

One trade possibility that could work would see Huston Street head to Detroit for Pelfrey, a mid-level prospect like Austin Kubitza or Wynton Bernard and a player to be named later.

Detroit Tigers
July 27, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Huston Street (16) pitches the ninth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The biggest luxury on a losing club is a closer, and Street hasn’t exactly been lights out in 2016. Street, a two-time All-Star and owner of 323 career saves and a 2.90 career ERA, has seen his numbers balloon. In just 18.2 innings, he’s only converted eight saves, while pitching to a 4.82 ERA and a 5.13 FIP. Street also has the distinction of walking as many betters (11) as he’s struck out.

Despite the poor numbers, he has been victimized by a high .355 BABIP, and could fare much better at spacious Comerica Park. The veteran reliever has pitched quite well in Detroit, with a 2.70 ERA and seven saves in 10 innings.

If Street can get back to the form he showcased from 2012 to 2015 when he turned in a 2.32 ERA, 207 strikeouts and 137 saves in 217.1 innings pitched, he’d give the Tigers yet another reliable late-inning arm.

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A pairing of an effective Street and Francisco Rodriguez would improve upon an already solid Detroit bullpen, and would give manager Brad Ausmus even more options late in games.

On the other side, the Angels would get an experienced starter capable of providing them with some kind of innings in Pelfrey. Should Shoemaker and Santiago be dealt, Anaheim could have to replace an entire rotation next season, so there will definitely be a need. What’s more, the former Met is on an expiring deal.

Per Spotrac, Street is making $1 million less than the Detroit starter next season, so the Halos would be saving some money. The rebuilding Angels would also get a prospect to help with the rebuilding prospect.

In Conclusion

If the Detroit Tigers can move on from Pelfrey or Sanchez, it would allow the team to allocate more starts to the likes of Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris. Both young starters have shown well in limited work this season, and will benefit form more experience.

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Given Pelfrey and Sanchez’ overall struggles, the Tigers might also benefit from Boyd and Norris gaining more experience.