Casey Mize was the first overall pick in 2018, and this year he joined Justin Verlander as the only rookie pitchers in Detroit Tigers history to make 30 starts, throw at least 150 innings, and finish with an ERA under 3.80. So, what could the Tigers get for Casey Mize if they traded him now?
Casey Mize looks like a legitimate building block for the Detroit Tigers as they climb back into contention, but as a recent Tweet from Lynn Henning suggested, draft picks and free agency can only take this team so far:
From 2017-2020 the Detroit Tigers played .365 baseball, which equates to about 59 wins per 162 games. This year they played at a .463 clip and won 77 games, a 30-game improvement over their 2019 record.
But don’t be fooled by how long it took the Tigers to play respectable baseball again. That was the easy part. The hard part is finding the next 15 wins to make Detroit a real playoff contender.
And sometimes getting over the top means trading a chance to be good for a smaller chance to be great.
Why Trade Casey Mize?
Trades in Major League Baseball tend to land in three categories:
- Under-the-radar deals for fringe big-leaguers (Jefry Marte for Kody Eaves)
- Straightforward prospect-for-veteran deals (the Justin Verlander trade)
- Swapping young MLB players for one another (the Granderson/Scherzer deal)
We can cross off that first bullet point immediately, because Casey Mize is more than a fringe big leaguer. And cross off the second point, too, as the Tigers aren’t about to part with Mize and prospects for veterans near free agency (Aaron Judge) or on a long-term deal (Bryce Harper).
That leaves the third category of trade, which is kind of a fun place to play.
Matt Manning, Casey Mize, and Tarik Skubal were all rookies in 2021, and together they started nearly 48% of Detroit’s games in 2021. Casey Mize was easily the most consistent of the three young hurlers — at one point he went 14 consecutive starts without allowing more than three earned runs. He allowed four or more earned runs in just 4 of his 30 starts.
That level of consistency can be awfully valuable. But Mize also never showed signs of dominance the way Skubal did, and he wasn’t a big strikeout pitcher this year. Both his FIP (4.71) and xERA (4.89) finished well above his actual ERA (3.71).
We aren’t suggesting Casey Mize is bad by any means, and he has plenty of time to get better. But, if we go back to that famous Curtis Granderson deal, right now Mize looks more like Ian Kennedy than Max Scherzer — a solid mid-rotation arm with a high floor and a moderate ceiling.
The Tigers farm system is awfully thin on pitching, so trading away any arm seems inadvisable. But no one knows Mize better than Chris Fetter and the Tigers, and they just managed to wrangle similar production from the tandem of Tyler Alexander and Wily Peralta.
So perhaps they’re confident in their ability to find pitching elsewhere, and want to use Casey Mize as a means to address other needs on the club. And if that’s the case, just what kind of trades could they pursue?