Detroit Tigers: Should they bring Jose Iglesias back?

DETROIT, MI - JUNE 06: Jose Iglesias #1 of the Detroit Tigers makes a play to first base for an out in the first inning during a MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park on June 6, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JUNE 06: Jose Iglesias #1 of the Detroit Tigers makes a play to first base for an out in the first inning during a MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park on June 6, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila was adamant before the season that Jose Iglesias will not be a part of the future. Should he change his tune?

The Detroit Tigers just placed shortstop Jose Iglesias on the 10-day disabled list with an abdomen injury. It’s unclear how long he will be out, but it is entirely possible he is done for the 2018 season. If that is the case, based on Al Avila’s preseason comments, it could be the end of Iggy’s time in the Motor City.

But is that the right decision? After all, it’s fairly clear the Detroit Tigers don’t have many other big league ready options at short.

Other Options

Ronny Rodriguez is expected to fill-in for the time being, but he has hit a miserable .205/.248/.291 in 39 big league games. His AAA numbers (.338|9 HR|10 SB|157 wRC+) are considerably better, but at 26 it’s hard to envision Rodriguez developing into a big league regular at shortstop. He seems like a bat-first utility option in my opinion, and will probably only be a productive big leaguer for a small window.

Dixon Machado was outrighted off the 40-man roster, but he will likely get another chance down the stretch. Defensively, he is Detroit’s best option at short. Offensively, well, there’s a reason he got outrighted. In 67 games this season, most spent at second base, Machado slashed .206/.263/.290 with just one home run and one steal. He was good at making contact, only striking out 17.6% of the time. However, he didn’t get anything elevated and didn’t draw enough walks to be anything more than a below average No. 9 hitter. He is solid defensively, but is not even close to as good of a hitter as Iglesias, and still falls short of him on the defensive side.

Lastly, the team recalled Dawel Lugo to take Iggy’s spot on the active roster. Lugo was recalled earlier in the year, but has yet to make his big league debut. His AAA numbers are not what one would want from a team’s high-ranking prospect. Presently, Lugo is slashing .269/.283/.350 with three home runs and 12 stolen bases in 123 games with Toledo. Lugo has a ghastly 1.7% walk rate, a huge concern for him going forward. His contact skills are solid, but he has limited power and not enough speed to make a big difference in the big leagues.

Plus, the Tigers have given him 77 starts at second base, 43 starts at third and one start at shortstop this season, so it’s pretty clear he is not going to be a big league shortstop.

The Tigers have a fairly deep crop of shortstops in their farm system, but none of them are big league ready, nor are they expected to be ready next season.

Sergio Alcantara is a big league caliber shortstop defensively, although he is unlikely to hit much, if at all, in the majors. Isaac Paredes is the opposite, with the bat to stick in the show but the body and defensive skills of a second or third baseman.

Willi Castro, whom the Tigers acquired at the trade deadline for Leonys Martin, has the pedigree to be a big league shortstop as well. The 21-year-old has slashed a tidy .324/.366/.562 since joining the AA Erie Seawolves. He has started 10 games at shortstop and nine games at second base, so it’s clear the Tigers are trying to determine his long-term spot on the diamond.

Jose King, Wenceel Perez and Cole Peterson are a few other minor league options, although none have progressed even to AA.

What this means for Iggy

So to wrap up: if the Detroit Tigers don’t bring Jose Iglesias back next season they will have….probably Dixon Machado starting at shortstop. Maybe Ronny Rodriguez. It’s pretty clear that Iggy is better than either of those options. But will he re-sign with Detroit? After Al Avila made it clear he wasn’t part of the future, won’t he try to go somewhere else?

Well, the problem, as seen by the trade market, is that there’s not a huge market for his services. Most contending teams are set at shortstop. Iggy has played some third base and three games at second base, but is regarded primarily for his SS defense. Teams could theoretically come looking for him as a glove-first utility infielder, but they are unlikely to offer a salary that would appeal to Iggy.

Detroit is one of the few (only) teams that would be willing to sign Iglesias as a starting shortstop. Honestly, the state of Detroit’s farm system is such that the team could probably ink him for a two-year deal before anyone else is ready. Iglesias may be looking for a longer term deal, but it seems very unlikely he will find one on the open market, unless a contending team’s shortstop situation changes dramatically.

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The Detroit Tigers could try to ink Iggy to a one or two-year deal, and once again make him available in a July trade for prospects. If another team’s shortstop is hurt, it’s possible Iggy could command a solid prospect or two.

Otherwise, the team will be forced to play prospects who are not ready, and that could stunt their development. Thus, it makes sense for the Tigers to consider bringing Iglesias back in 2019.