Detroit Tigers: Six Players Who Could Improve Infield for Present, Future
Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila is looking to make the team younger and more fiscally sustainable, while staying competitive. The Tigers could use help in the infield, where Detroit needs youth.
Detroit Tigers fans have long witnessed some stellar middle-infield play. Ian Kinsler is one of the game’s best all-around threats, while Jose Iglesias has developed into an elite defender at shortstop.
For a while, the Tigers had some intriguing infield depth behind the duo. Dixon Machado, whose glove has been Major League ready for years, has been gaining experience in the upper minors. What’s more, the likes of Devon Travis, Willy Adames, Javier Betancourt and Domingo Leyba gave the team options for the future.
However, a number of trades in recent seasons have sapped the system of said depth.
Machado is still around, but the rest of the aforementioned young infielders are not.
Travis was flipped to Toronto in the ill-fated Anthony Gose deal, while Adames was shipped to Tampa Bay as part of the David Price blockbuster. Betancourt and Leyba were also moved in trades for Francisco Rodriguez and Shane Greene respectively.
While Adames, Betancourt and Leyba have yet to reach the Major Leagues, the Tigers were still somewhat hurt by their lack of depth last season.
Detroit was forced to rely on Andrew Romine, Erick Aybar, Mike Aviles and Casey McGehee for significant stretches.
While Romine and Aybar had their moments, none of the quartet posted wRC+ numbers over 90, with Aybar leading the way at 88. In fact, Aviles and McGehee’s wRC+ numbers (41 and 33 respectively) were both nearly topped by a pair of pitchers in Daniel Norris (37 wRC+) and Jordan Zimmermann (30 wRC+).
With Aybar and McGehee scheduled to hit the free agency market, Romine and Dixon Machado are currently the team’s top utility options. JaCoby Jones could see time on the left side of the infield, but Detroit may need him in center field if Cameron Maybin departs.
Additionally, while Iglesias, Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera are set as the team’s long-term starters shortstop, third base and first base, an eventual successor for Ian Kinsler is needed.
Here are six players Detroit could acquire via trade, in exchange for someone like J.D. Martinez or Francisco Rodriguez, who could improve the Detroit Tigers’ infield outlook in the present and future.