Detroit Tigers News

Did the Detroit Tigers lose the Austin Meadows trade?

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JUNE 25: Isaac Paredes #17 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Tropicana Field on June 25, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JUNE 25: Isaac Paredes #17 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Tropicana Field on June 25, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Did the Detroit Tigers give up on Isaac Paredes too quickly?

When the Detroit Tigers acquired Austin Meadows from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Isaac Paredes and a draft pick back on April 4, fans were ecstatic at the time. Detroit had added a much needed left-handed power bat to their lineup at the cost of an infielder who was stuck in a logjam.

Fast forward to present day, and most Tigers fans feel the exact opposite about the trade. Meadows has only played 36 games this season due to various illnesses, and has yet to homer in those 36 games after hitting 27 and 33, respectively, in the two full seasons prior. Paredes, meanwhile, has hit 10 home runs on the season at the time of writing this after hitting just two home runs in his 57-game career as a Tiger. This includes a three-homer game on June 21.

Paredes had a slugging percentage just above .300 during his time in Detroit, but that has ballooned to .579 this season with the Rays. His wRC+ is 147. He was nowhere this caliber of player in Detroit. What’s going on here? What’s causing this sudden power surge?

Looking at his stats, it’s hard to tell. His average launch angle and exit velocity are both about the same as they usually are, yet his flyball rate has skyrocketed, as has his hard hit rate. His barrel rate is now above league average, but his sweet spot percentage is at a career low. His walk rate is also at a career low.

According to his spray chart on Baseball Savant, all of his home runs are to the pull side, several of which are very close to the foul pole. There’s definitely some luck involved there, despite his .169 BABIP.

There’s really nothing to suggest that this hot streak is sustainable. Tigers and Rays fans should fully expect him to cool off at some point.

In addition, Tigers fans need to cool their jets a little. Paredes has played 33 games in a Rays uniform—104 plate appearances. It’s a small sample size. It’s not like his exit velos are off the charts or he’s spraying the ball to all fields. He’s just barely keeping some of these homers fair.

Yes, Paredes is still just 23 years old. It’s possible that he’s figured something out. But he didn’t have a spot with the Detroit Tigers, and he had shown nothing that proved that he was deserving of one.

Al Avila’s track record with trades is well-documented. That’s understandable. Avila trading with the Rays seems like a recipe for disaster on paper. But Meadows has a proven track record. He’ll be fine.

The Detroit Tigers had a need to fill when Riley Greene went down with a fractured foot late in spring training. They needed a left-handed power bat. An outfield of Robbie Grossman, Akil Baddoo, and Victor Reyes wasn’t going to cut it. Paredes was blocked in the infield, and hadn’t shown much at the big league level. If you’re the Tigers, you make that trade every time.

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