Tigers have indicated to other teams that Ramon Santiago is available.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 27, 2013
That's all well and good, the Tigers may have decided a younger and cheaper Danny Worth fits their needs better as a backup middle infielder.
GM Dave Dombrowski says as much when Jason Beck followed up on Santiago's status.
"I don't know if we're going to carry two extra infielders or not. We don't know that at this point," Dombrowski said. "I think Danny Worth is ready to play at the big league level. I don't know how much he's going to hit, but he's a very good defensive player at short and second, and he can go over and play third. He's got a little athleticism where he can run some. He's hit enough, but you don't look at carrying him from his offensive perspective.
But there's an elephant in the war room. Santiago's $2.1 million contract.
Of course the Tigers would be happy to deal Santiago for a low-level prospect...or even an Applebee's gift card. But saying you want to trade a declining 11 year veteran and actually making one are two different things. So it comes down to somehow finding a team willing to take on Santiago's contract. Or more correctly, how much of the $2.1 million Santiago is owed would the Tigers be forced to eat in order to consummate any deal?
In his favor, Santiago has hit well this spring, posting a .929 OPS in 11 games. But 11 games will not convince anyone Santiago brings $2.1 million worth of value to the table. Odds are the Tigers would have to take on a significant portion of Santiago's contract to make a trade palatable. Especially when the player on the trading block is a 33 year old backup coming off an awful season on both offense (.206/.283/.272, two home runs, 17 RBI) and defense (his range factor fell off a cliff in 2012).
If the Tigers can find a taker for Santiago, odds are Danny Worth can start looking for a place to live in Metro Detroit (Matt Tuiasosopo also has infield experience, though he appears ticketed for the outfield).
I'm sure Worth did a jig at the Lakeland Holiday Inn after hearing the news. In fact, I'd bet Worth has told the Tigers he'll even chip in a few bucks to help out when Tigers ultimately eat a big portion of Santiago's deal.