Maybe we are taking the wrong approach to solving the closer crisis. Rather than finding a new closer, perhaps we should have fewer save situations. Can we find a player who will give the Tigers more offense, so that they go into the ninth inning more often with a four or five run lead that any A ball pitcher can close?
What positions can provide more offense? Let's not consider trading for a catcher, it is too political and Avila's injury is providing an opportunity for Bryan Holaday.
The entire infield is pulling their weight. Austin Jackson is on fire since returning from the disabled list. Torii Hunter is fine. Victor Martinez is warming up, makes too much, and smiles too much to be replaced.
That leaves left field. Andy Dirks is providing value with his glove as detailed in Patrick O'Kennedy's article today. But his bat is cold. Matt Tuiasosopo is helping but should not be expected to perform at this rate for long, or in an expanded role.
So let's dream big. Can we possible obtain Giancarlo Stanton?
When Miguel Cabrera was obtained by Dave Dombrowski from the Marlins for a bunch of prospects, Cabrera had five years of major league experience. He was entering his "age 25" season and soon to be a free agent. He had never led the league in a single offense category. But he was young and had posted consistently impressive numbers. In the previous three years he had at least a .320 batting average, .385 on base percentage, and a .561 slugging percentage. He had played a few seasons in the outfield, and a few at third base, which spoke to his athleticism. Cabrera was the ideal player to pursue and sign to a long term deal. He was young and had already had multiple years of success. He was no fluke, was highly likely to maintain production, and also was a good bet to improve.
Now the Marlins have Giancarlo Stanton. He is in his fourth year and will be a free agent before Miami is competitive again. For reference, the Marlins are already 19 games out of first place with a record far worse than the Astros. Miami traded many of their chips to Toronto in the offseason, but kept their prize for the trade deadline. Stanton has a career .270 batting average, .350 on base percentage, and a .550 slugging percentage. Baseball Reference lists similar batters through the same point in their career, and number six on the list is Miguel Cabrera. Granted, Juan Gonzalez is first on the list so there is some risk here.
Miami will likely be taking offers for Stanton in July, with the trade deadline at the end of the month. Detroit and Miami have been frequent trade partners, so they know how to talk. They may be reluctant to trade since Dombrowski always seems to come out ahead. But Jacob Turner has provided 11 starts with good numbers since being received in the deal for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante, and Rob Brantly has a good future as their catcher. What would it need to convince them to part with Stanton?
I suppose it is not worth picking up the phone if Nick Castellanos' name is not on the list. He is only 21 and coming on strong in AAA hitting .293 with 10 home runs. He is also a native of Florida, and Miami is desperate for something positive to market. Castellanos' could step right into Stanton's shoes and provide five years at low cost. Then they can trade him before free agency, for the next crop of prospects.
Miami needs a first baseman. Greg Dobbs' numbers are similar to Alex Avila's. So how about Jordan Lennerton? He is hitting .331 in Toledo with a .435 on base percentage and a .504 slugging percentage. The downside is his age, 27 years old. They can get two to three good years out of him and then flip him to a team in need in the playoff hunt and in need of a left-handed hitter for the bench.
They may need a catcher to backup Brantly. How about any one of Bryan Holaday, James McCann, or Roman Cabrera? Holaday is the most ready, McCann may have the highest upside, and Cabrera has the best bat.
They may want a middle infielder. Let them have their pick of the minors. Any one middle infielder, their choice.
Still not enticing? How about a fire-balling closer? Bruce Rondon is not quite ready for Detroit but has a 1.01 ERA in Toledo with 38 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. He could round out the package.
It is time to push all the chips to the middle of the table. The next two years are the Tigers' peak with this collection of talent. Mortgage the future, and go for broke. Is this package enough to land another big bat?