Prior to the start of Spring Training, the Detroit Tigers were riding high with optimism. Notable additions like Javier Baez and Eduardo Rodriguez, along with rookie phenoms Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, gave Tigers’ fans reason to think playoff contention was a realistic expectation in 2022.
Fast forward to early May, and the picture has changed considerably. Injuries to Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Greene and others have contributed to a miserable 7-14 start. It’s obviously way too early for anyone to throw in the towel. The only question is, what, if anything, should be done to right the ship?
In a recent piece, my colleague Jacob Boes argued the Tigers should ride the storm out. Injured players should return to the lineup before any final assessments are done and trades made.
Well, Jacob, I respectfully disagree. It’s true, other teams aren’t likely to make a blockbuster this early in the season. My argument is, the Tigers don’t need a blockbuster. What they need is another piece, not unlike the Austin Meadows trade, that will help solidify the offense and keep the ship from sinking any further.
With that in mind, I’ve got an idea.
Don’t Worry Tigers Fans, Be Happ(y)
The Chicago Cubs’ Ian Happ is just the kind of player who could pay immediate dividends. Selected in the first round of the 2015 draft by the Cubs, Happ has shown a solid bat and position versatility that could boost the Tigers’ lineup in a hurry.
In 2021, Happ spent most of his time in the outfield, playing left field and center field for more than 50 games each. He played 16 games in right field, eight at second base, and two at third. In years past, Happ has played as many as 44 games at second base and 20 at third.
So, what would it cost the Tigers in trade chips to pry Happ from the Cubs? Quite a bit, according to Baseball Trade Values. The headliner going to the South Side would be third baseman/shortstop Gage Workman, Detroit’s No. 11 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
Chicago would also receive No. 17 prospect Reese Olson, a starting pitcher, as well as outfielder Daz Cameron. While the cost seems high, consider that the Tigers have better prospects at shortstop (Cristian Santana, Ryan Kreidler), third base (Izaac Pacheco) and starting pitcher (Ty Madden, Dylan Smith, Joey Wentz, and even Alex Faedo).
Listen, I’m generally a prospect-hugger. But the Tigers have had too many losing seasons in a row. To keep any kind of hope about the postseason going, Al Avila can’t afford to sit on his hands the next four to six weeks. Happ isn’t the be-all, end-all, but he can help right now, and that’s enough.