Detroit Tigers: Should they consider trading for Trayce Thompson?

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 30: Trayce Thompson
MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 30: Trayce Thompson /

The Detroit Tigers could use some added outfield depth, and out-of-options outfielder Trayce Thompson of the Dodgers could be an ideal trade candidate.

Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila turned over Detroit’s entire outfield in the last year. Gone are veteran’s J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and even utility man Andrew Romine.

The Tigers replaced them with veteran center fielder Leonys Martin as well as Rule 5 draft selection Victor Reyes. They will join returners Mikie Mahtook, Nicholas Castellanos and youngster JaCoby Jones.

However, depth is always important – even for rebuilding teams. And the Tigers may have an opportunity to pounce on a 26-year-old outfielder who has already had success in the big leagues. That outfielder is Los Angeles Dodgers Trayce Thompson.

Who is Trayce Thompson?

Thompson was drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by the Chicago White Sox. The brother of NBA star Klay Thompson, Trayce made his big league debut in 2015. In 122 at-bats, Thompson hit .295 with five home runs and a 146 wRC+. He posted a stellar 9.6% walk-rate and a 1.5 fWAR.

Thompson was traded in the offseason in a three-team deal that sent him to the Dodgers, along with Frankie Montas and Micah Johnson.

Thompson burst onto the scene in LA, hitting .277 with 10 home runs and a .905 OPS by mid-June. Unfortunately, a pair of fractures in his back ended his season prematurely. He was not cleared for baseball activities until mid-March of 2017. His delayed start affected him, and he went 0-for-38 to start the 2017 season.

He finished 2017 hitting .122 in 49 at-bats at the big league level. He was better at Triple-A, hitting .212 with nine home runs in 339 at-bats.

Thompson is out-of-options and the Dodgers are flush with outfielders. Matt Kemp is joining an outfield of Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and potentially Alex Verdugo. That spells trouble for Thompson, who will need to make the roster out of camp or else be exposed to waivers.

The last option for the Dodgers would be to trade Thompson, ensuring they get something in return instead of losing him on waivers.

Thompson’s fit in Detroit

Four outfielders are guaranteed a spot on Detroit’s 25-man roster: Mikie Mahtook, Leonys Martin, Nicholas Castellanos and Rule 5 draft pick Victor Reyes. Reyes has to spend the entire season on the 25-man roster, or else he gets returned to Arizona Diamondbacks. That leaves one open spot.

JaCoby Jones is the most likely candidate to win the final spot. However, he struck out a staggering 42.2% of the time last season in the big leagues, and could use more time in Triple-A to refine his approach.

Thompson has shown a nice blend of power and speed throughout the minor leagues, and at 26 he has plenty of time to rebound from his injury-riddled 2017 season and contribute in the big leagues. For that reason, he is absolutely worth taking a gamble on for the Tigers.

It is unclear what exactly Detroit would need to give up to get Thompson. Because the team is rebuilding, they should not be giving up high-profile prospects to acquire Thompson. However, if they can move international slot money or a low level prospect, he is worth the gamble.

Next: A look at the 2018 Outfield

At the very least, Thompson will provide good competition for JaCoby Jones in the fifth outfielder role. If the Tigers can get him on the cheap, he has the potential to find his footing and contribute to the Tigers through their rebuild and into their next window of contention.