Marlins closer Steve Cishek may not have many opportunities to ply his trade pitching in the ninth inning for an awful Miami team. Would that all change if the Tigers acquired him to pitch in their pen? Let's find out.
(SIERA: Skills Interactive Earned Run Average; BABIP: Batting Average for Runs in Play.)
Stats via FanGraphs.com, updated June 26
Cishek is being paid $500,000 this season and is eligible for arbitration for the first time next year. He appears as if he'll have four years of arbitration, rather than three, due to his service time situation. That would put his free agent year after 2017. (Cot's)
Right-handed reliever Steve Cishek is a sinkerballer with a low-90s fasterball and slider who has completed 30 of 36 save opportunities (through June 24) during his past two and a half season with the Fish. Blowing just six saves makes an 83 percent success rate overall, nothing to complain about. Of course, you might better know him for the strange sidearm delivery.
Why he fits the Tigers
The Tigers bullpen may be beginning to find its pace with Joaquin Benoit pitching in the ninth, Drew Smyly as a late-innings throwback multi-inning reliever and the re-addition of Al Alburquerque. Still, it does not seem like anyone would confuse this with an ideal situation. The Tigers need relief help, even if they aren't trying to find their next closer. His numbers are not the most beautiful across the board, but they're quite workmanlike, and he tends to force batters to put the ball on the ground.
Why he doesn't fit the Tigers
Cishek seems to have slid backward this year. His ERA, SIERA and FIP are all elevated. His strikeout rate (as a percentage of plate appearances) is down. Batters aren't chasing as often and they're not whiffing. As always, you can cite concern over whether it's a good idea to bring a groundball pitcher like Cishek to a team with an infield like the Tigers -- though Doug Fister and Rick Porcello's success seems to indicate this can be overstated. Finally, his splits are not favorable. He gets right-handed batters out really well, but left-handers have a .748 OPS against him. This is not a new occurrence.
How likely is a trade?
The Marlins and Tigers have been trade partners several times before. MLB.com's Jason Beck reported the Tigers had scouts watching Cishek and Ryan Webb during the Marlins-Giants series. However, a report earlier in the month stated the Marlins are not interested in trading Cishek. I don't blame them. He's a pretty team-friendly player right now, so why bother. I'm betting against this one.
What the Tigers should give up
Not a top prospect, by any means. The Marlins might hold out and ask a top (but not THE top) prospect in order to move him but I doubt the Tigers are willing to meet that. Maybe some mid-tier relief prospects.
Team blog thoughts
Michael Jong of Fish Stripes told us:
The Marlins are not inclined to trade Cishek at this point, as he is the team's most proven closer option and is still a relatively cheap asset, as he will be going into his first season of arbitration next year. If the Tigers are interested in a closer with about a season's worth of contiguous experience, Cishek would be an available player for the right price.
The price, unfortunately, may be a B-ranked prospect and another promising low-minors player, given that Cishek will still have three team-controlled seasons left. That may be a price too high for a closer who has not held the job long enough to be "proven" and who still has some issues versus left-handed hitters (career .311 wOBA against lefties versus .231 against righties). The Tigers do not have better options, however, and if they could spare such a player, the Marlins may accept.
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