The 4th of July weekend is here! Fire up the grill. Enjoy the fireworks. Consume baseball by listening to the radio on the beach. And while doing all of the above, talk about possible deals before the trade deadline.
Where can the Tigers improve through an acquisition? The worst starting pitcher is Justin Verlander, so no need to look at the rotation. The relief pitching is a whole ‘nother can ‘o worms, addressed yesterday by HookSlide. What about the lineup?
We know what positions are not on Dave Dombrowksi's radar. Ian Kinsler was the best second baseman in either league over the first half of the season. Even with a slump, Miguel Cabrera was in the discussion among the best first basemen even, and his defense is no longer making us wince. Victor Martinez is a fixture in the lineup, as long his back issues resolve. J.D. Martinez has a corner outfield spot locked up.
Alex Avila is the catcher, regardless of whether you enjoy his high on-base percentage or cringe at all the strikeouts. The pitching staff does not need to deal with a new signal-caller while pursuing a run at the postseason.
Nick Castellanos is the third baseman, and not going anywhere. He may be 37th among all third basemen in fWAR, a difficult trick with only 30 teams, but it is mainly due to his defense. Any upgrade here would be a late-inning defensive replacement. Don Kelly or Andrew Romine can fill that limited role.
The two largest holes on the team are shortstop and centerfield. Shortstop was gaping chasm until Eugenio Suarez arrived. Can Tigers trust the position to a rookie with a bat that is likely to cool off, and with defensive lapses that remind us that Jose Iglesias was the original plan? A trade for a veteran with an expiring contract is a distinct possibility.
Center field was not expected to be an issue, yet Austin Jackson has contributed little so far this year. Unlike shortstop, the Tigers do not have a center fielder waiting in the wings. Jackson is a free agent after next season. Would Dave Dombrowksi be so bold as to swap Austin Jackson and prospects for a younger player with more potential?