Jayson Stark claims in his latest "Rumblings and grumblings" column the Tigers are telling teams "they might have a left-hander available in a few weeks."
As Stark notes, the available left hander sure wouldn't be Kenny Rogers or Dontrelle Willis. The Gambler won't be traded for obvious reasons (age, only on a 1 year deal, would likely retire if dealt), and the D-Train's control issues, let alone his expensive multi-year contract, make him essentially untradable.
Thus, if you do the math, Nate Robertson is the unnamed left hander on the trading block. Why would the Tigers think about trading someone they signed to a multi-year contract just this past off season? There could be a few reasons...
1. The Tigers believe Armando Galarraga is the real deal.
To me me, this seems like a big jump to make, as Galarraga has never been this good. Do you believe the small sample size of 8 2008 starts, or his past track record of mediocrity? To trade one of your starters because Galarraga is on a hot streak is short sighted lunacy.
2. Dontrelle Willis is ready to rejoin the roation.
Nah, I don't believe that either. But Willis to the rotation is going to happen sometime soon. Having $9 million a season mop up man isn't exactly fiscally responsible, or what the Tigers expected to get out of Willis.
If the D-Train does come back to the rotation, someone has to be removed. If still pitching well, it won't be Galarraga. Obviously, it won't be Justin Verlander or Jeremy Bonderman. The Gambler is pitching better than Robertson. Nate could be, and should be, the odd man out.
3. Robertson is the Tigers most tradable pitching commodity.
This is the most likely reason. Consider the following facts: Robertson is left handed, locked into a relatively affordable 3 year, $21million contract, is capable of winning in double digits, is rarely injured and should give your team around 200 innings. That sounds like a fairly marketable pitcher to me in today's starting pitching starved MLB.
But what could a 4 or 5 rotation guy, an average (at best) starting pitcher like Robertson return on the open market? It depends on how desperate teams are at the deadline. Thing is, I'd assume the return would be prospects. With their payroll, should the Tigers be trading capable major league players for prospects?
My thinking is the Tigers would have to be much farther out of 1st place than their current 8 games to be sellers at the trade deadline. After decidedly going all in payroll-wise, saying the time to win is NOW, to suddenly be sellers rather than buyers, the Tigers would be giving up on the season.
With a $138 million payroll, it would be the ultimate admission of failure.