Tigers Rumors: The Detroit Tigers and the surprisingly hot Oakland A’s could line up well on a potential Mike Fiers trade.
It’s mid-July so Detroit Tigers rumors are out in full-force. The Tigers are expected to be sellers at this year’s trade deadline, although injuries and ineffectiveness have left a handful of their primary trade pieces unlikely to be dealt.
Mike Fiers still remains a viable trade option, with a sturdy 3.70 ERA across 18 starts this season. We profiled a handful of trade options for Fiers earlier today, but another team that has emerged as a suitor for the veteran right-hander is the Oakland A’s.
The A’s are rarely buyers at the trade deadline, but a surprising 55-42 start has put them squarely in the conversation in the highly competitive AL West. Their hitting has been their biggest strength, led by All-Star Jed Lowrie as well as sluggers Khris Davis, Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Stephen Piscotty.
Their pitching, however, could use some work. The A’s have only had two players make more than 10 starts, and have had 12 pitchers make at least one. They could really use some stability at the back-end of their rotation, and Fiers is the perfect fit. He’d slot in alongside Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Trevor Cahill and Frankie Montas.
Additionally, Fiers still has one final year of team control. So the A’s could keep him for next season and potentially look to trade him again, if they wish. Of course, that gives the Tigers less incentive to move him, as the team could always bring him back for next year and try to trade him again.
The Return for Fiers
Obviously, as Scott Fults noted in our earlier piece, Fiers’ trade value is limited. The Tigers will not be getting a blue chip prospect in return. They’ll likely target a high-risk, high-reward type of player. If they pan out, the Tigers will have gotten a steal. If not, well that’s the risk with these types of trades.
Looking through Oakland’s farm system, there are a handful of names that jump out as potential trade targets.
Ramon Laureano is a 24-year-old, toolsy outfield prospect that Oakland acquired from Houston last season. A former 16th round pick, Laureano had a monstrous 2016 season that saw him hit 15 home runs and steal 43 bases between A+ and AA. He followed that up with an ugly 2017, although he still managed 11 home runs and 24 stolen bases.
He has been at Triple-A all year for Oakland, hitting .262/.345/.451 with nine home runs and six steals in 51 games. A logjam in Oakland’s outfield has prevented Laureano from getting called up. That could make him expendable in a potential Fiers trade.
Laureano is a speedy corner outfield type who excels against left-handed pitching. His ceiling is a high-OBP corner outfielder who can hit near the top of the order, but his more realistic calling is as a speedy platoon bat against left-handers. Regardless, Laureano could factor into Detroit’s outfield mix as soon as September if they pry him away from Oakland.
Brito is an 18-year-old infielder who was ranked as the No. 26 international prospect when the A’s snagged him in the 2016-2017 signing period. With a $1.1 million dollar investment in him, Oakland may be hesitant to part with Brito. If Detroit can acquire him, they’d be getting a high-contact switch-hitter who has a good command of the strike zone. He’s played shortstop, but most scouts expect he will need to move to second base, a position of need for the Tigers long-term.
Martin is a 23-year-old shortstop who has played all of 2018 with the A’s Double-A affiliate. Known more for his glove than his bat, the 2015 first rounder is having his finest offensive season, hitting .292/.360/.412 with 14 stolen bases. He has the defensive tools to stick at shortstop long-term, but is blocked by Marcus Semien, Chad Pinder and Franklin Barreto in the A’s system.
Martin, alongside Isaac Paredes and Sergio Alcantara, would give the Tigers a trio of sturdy shortstop prospects.
The A’s likely won’t want to part with any super high-profile prospects to acquire Fiers. Still, the Tigers could acquire a useful piece.
Detroit is particularly short on middle infield talent in the minors, making these two teams a potentially excellent match on paper.