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Say What? Tigers Claimed Ibanez?

Do the Detroit Tigers really need another outfielder/first base/DH kind of player in their lineup? Even if he hits left-handed? According to's Jon Heyman, the Tigers were among several teams who made a waiver claim on Raul Ibanez, and Detroit won the claim, based on their inferior won-loss record.

The Tigers thus had 48 hours to work out a trade with the Mariners, but couldn't reach an agreement before that window expired. Heyman reports that Seattle was asking for multiple prospects in return from any team who wanted Ibanez because they expect him to be a Type A free agent, and will receive two draft picks if he signs with another club in free agency.

But what if the two teams had agreed upon a trade? Where exactly would Ibanez have played? Left field is the obvious answer, but would that have been worth taking at-bats away from Matt Joyce, Marcus Thames, or Ryan Raburn? Between those three, wouldn't they have matched whatever production Ibanez could've provided? This season, Ibanez is batting .292/.356/.496 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs.

He wouldn't have played much at first base - a position he hasn't manned since 2005 (and for four games), by the way. And unless the Tigers had something in the works for Gary Sheffield, he likely wouldn't have seen much time at designated hitter, either.

And all of those questions overlook a fundamental question: What would have been the point? Are the Tigers in playoff contention? Would Ibanez make the difference between them making a push or falling further back? Or would the Tigers have been content to collect those compensatory draft picks after Ibanez tested free agency?

One reason that at least makes some sense (though still not a lot) is that Detroit might have claimed Ibanez to prevent him from going to Minnesota. The Twins were eyeing Ibanez as a possible replacement for Michael Cuddyer (or upgrade from Denard Span) in right field. (Minnesota, meanwhile, did a little waiver blocking of their own, claiming another Mariner, Jarrod Washburn, presumably to stop him from going to the White Sox.) But again, if the Tigers are out of the race, why bother?

However, it's also possible that the Tigers weren't just looking to block the Twins on this one. Reportedly, the Rays and Red Sox were also interested in Ibanez, and both teams have been mentioned as potential destinations for Sheffield. By claiming Ibanez, Dave Dombrowski keeps the potential market for their disgruntled desingated hitter open. Now that could be some slick thinking. If it's true.