Detroit Tigers: Final hour destinations for Jose Iglesias, Francisco Liriano
By Andy Patton
With three hours until the non-waiver trade deadline passes, the Detroit Tigers still have a few trade options with their upcoming free agents.
Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila made his first trade with less than four hours to go before the trade deadline, sending Leonys Martin to the Indians. While fans have been clamoring to see multiple deals, the team has not been connected to many other trade rumors, and ultimately may steer clear of any additional deals before the deadline at 4:00 PM EST.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Only two players that Detroit is shopping are going to be free agents at the end of the season: Jose Iglesias and Francisco Liriano. The others all have at least one more year of team control. So if the Tigers decide to hold onto Fiers or Greene, they could always try to trade them again next year.
However, if the team does not trade either Liriano or Iglesias, they will watch them walk in free agency and will not get anything in return. Thus, it makes sense to deal them if any team is willing to offer even a decent package.
Iglesias is actually having his finest offensive season since 2015, slashing .266/.308/.390 with four home runs and a career-high 13 stolen bases. His 4.0% walk rate is bad, but his 10.1% strikeout rate is elite, and his 2.1 fWAR is nearly a career-high in just 101 games.
A few infield needy teams have already addressed their problem, with the Red Sox acquiring Ian Kinsler, the Phillies acquiring Asdrubal Cabrera and the Diamondbacks nabbing Eduardo Escobar. That does not mean that Iglesias is not tradable, although it’s hard to see him taking a starting spot anywhere, which dilutes his trade value.
The Brewers could show interest in Iglesias as a utility infielder and insurance at shortstop for Orlando Arcia, who has not swung the ball well this year. The Brewers just struck for Mike Moustakas, which moves career corner infielder Travis Shaw to second base. Iglesias would offer premier defense up the middle, something Milwaukee could really use.
A few prospects in their system to keep an eye on are first baseman Jake Gatewood, first baseman Chad McClanahan and catcher KJ Harrison. Each have plenty of power upside, but could be limited defensively. They would all slot in around the 20-30 range in Detroit’s top 30 prospects.
Liriano was postulated as a good fit for the Yankees, although their acquisitions of Lance Lynn and left-hander J.A. Happ likely ended that possibility. If the Yankees are out, one team that could show interest would be the Atlanta Braves.
We connected the Braves to left-hander Blaine Hardy earlier in the season, primarily because the Braves need left-handed pitching help. Liriano would of course provide that as well. Despite his pedestrian numbers on the season (4.62 ERA, 70/49 K/BB ratio) Liriano has done a good job of limiting left-handers. On the season, Liriano has held opposing lefties to a comical .113/.214/.210 line with a 8.24 K/9 and a 3.66 BB/9.
Liriano is not going to command much in the way of prospects, but the Braves could find him as a cheap LOOGY going forward.
A few names to keep an eye on: Shortstop Riley Delgado, 2B Derian Cruz, and infielder Braulio Vasquez. All carry considerable risk, but have tools that make them intriguing. While none would slot into Detroit’s top 30 right away, they could each get there with a step up next season.
It will be interesting to see if Avila and the Detroit Tigers are able to pull off a last-minute trade with one or both of their expiring contracts. If they can, it will help take small steps forward in the rebuild.