I don't know if you've heard, but the Tigers traded Prince Fielder and 30MM for Ian Kinsler yesterday. I'm probably not breaking this news to you. This move creates a trickle down effect within the organization for not only major league moves, but minor league moves as well. I'll explain.
Now that Fielder is not occupying 1B, the Tigers could go a few ways. Either they could move MVP Miguel Cabrera back there, which is the logical move, or they could keep Cabrera at 3B, and find someone new to play 1B. I'd tend to doubt this happens. They could even play Victor at 1B and find a new DH. Realistically, the easy move is to slide Cabrera to 1B and be done with it. Let's assume they do that.
While Cabrera moves to 1B, that opens up a vacancy at 3B. The Tigers are in luck! Well, not luck, really. It just so happens their best prospect plays 3B. He's not a gold glover at the hot corner by any means. In fact, Castellanos is a below average 3B, with the potential to be fringy in the future. Guess what? That's better than Cabrera was over there. I'd assume that Castellanos moves from LF to 3B, and is given a shot to win the job. Castellanos may even head over seas this winter to get some 3B reps.
That still leaves LF as a hole, and the Tigers are going to have to get creative in order to fill it. That could be 10 posts itself, so I'll spare the details. For now, the Tigers don't have anyone in the minors that's ready to step in and play LF on an every day basis. I severely doubt that the organization will roll with Dirks in LF next year.
Two prospects may see their roles change due to this move: Eugenio Suarez and Hernan Perez. How, exactly?
Eugenio Suarez- has played SS at every level in the minors so far. He has steadily moved up from the VSL to AA, moving a level a year. While he's still a work in progress at SS, he shows good actions, has a strong enough arm, and is projected to be a solid average every day SS at the major league level. However, the Tigers have Jose Iglesias, who is pretty good in his own right. Now that Kinsler is manning the keystone every day, Suarez is blocked at 2B, too. The only way for Suarez to make an impact at the major league level for the Tigers is to become even more versatile. Expect him to play SS almost every day in the minors this year, as there is no reason to panic yet. However, I'd be surprised if he didn't start playing some 3B, along with more 2B in 2015. In fact, Suarez played some OF in the VSL in 2010, and he's athletic enough, and has a strong enough arm to play there in a utility capacity going forward.
Hernan Perez- I'm fascinated by Perez' role with the Tigers in 2014 and beyond. Conventional wisdom would suggest that an outside the org solution or Danny Worth will be the IF utility guy next season. However, the organization has clearly soured on Worth, or never liked him that much in the first place. Perez brings a unique skill set to the table, which could certainly interest the Tigers next season. He's an extremely good fielder at 2B, can play ~30 or so games at SS, and also some 3B. I didn't believe the bat could play on an every day level in 2014, and may never live up to that billing, but it's certainly good enough for a utility role. Perez is an extremely good base runner, too. He could certainly pinch run and play defense late in games. However, that's not the route I believe the Tigers will go. I think they'll get a more experienced utility MIF, and stash Perez at AAA to play 2B every day. He may play some 3B there, too. The org still likes Perez as a player, and it may hinder his development to make him a ~250 AB guy so early in his career.
Of course, I have not touched on the possibility of a trade. One of these two players is expendable. I believed that to be the case when they traded for Iglesias back in July in this piece. I wouldn't be surprised to see one of these two guys as the second piece in a bigger trade, or shipped out for a relief pitcher at some point before the 2014 season is over.
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