For most of the season, the rumors of suspensions being handed out to those players affiliated with Anthony Bosch and his Biogenesis documents have been the butt of jokes around Major League Baseball. Fast forward to last week, and Ryan Braun's season-ending suspension signaled that the MLB has more dirt on some of these players than originally expected.
The Tigers could arguably see the harshest penalty if suspensions are handed out, as All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta is one of the top performers among those implicated. If Peralta is suspended for a lengthy period of time -- the number du jour is 50 games -- then the Tigers could be forced to find another shortstop for a possible playoff run. Who are some of the names available at the trade deadline?
First, let's temper expectations a bit. Xander Bogaerts and Jurickson Profar -- top prospects in the Red Sox and Rangers' organizations, respectively -- probably aren't going anywhere, and definitely won't come cheap. The Red Sox have balked at the idea of trading Bogaerts for Cliff Lee, among others. The only way we'll be seeing Bogaerts in Detroit in 2013 is if the Tigers and Red Sox meet in the postseason.
Profar's name has been floated around in rumors all over the place now that Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler are locked up to long-term contracts, but the Rangers seem committed to the 20 year old from Curacao.
However, the Rangers are reportedly shopping Andrus, who is hitting just .250/.310/.289 this season. Andrus is an above average defender, but has only been worth 0.9 fWAR in 2013. He is due roughly $128 million through the 2022 season. If Andrus can produce at the plate -- he put up a .718 OPS in 2011 and 2012 -- he would be well worth the money. That said, the Tigers would be hard pressed to take on another $100+ million contract, especially when you consider that they would likely be parting ways with both Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia for Andrus.
Further west, the Los Angeles Angels are listening on offers for several infielders, including shortstop Erick Aybar and second baseman Howie Kendrick. Aybar, who is due $8.5 million over each of the next three seasons, has put up a combined 7.6 fWAR over the past two years. He is well off that pace in 2013, having put up just 0.8 fWAR so far. However, most of that decline is due to a drop in advanced defensive numbers. I doubt that Aybar is declining that much defensively at age 29, so take these with a grain of salt. As for his price? It's anyone's guess, but odds are the Angels would look to pick up some of his salary in hopes of getting their hands on either Garcia or Castellanos, as the Tigers don't have any big league-ready pitching in their farm system.
Kendrick, who has quietly become one of the better second basemen in the American League, will cost even more than Aybar. Acquiring him would likely force Omar Infante over to short, as Kendrick has never started a game at shortstop in his career.
The Toronto Blue Jays are reportedly looking to trade utility infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Bonifacio is 28 years old and has one more season of arbitration left, but his numbers leave a lot to be desired. He is hitting just .214/.254/.314 this year and has been a below average fielder at short in 97 career games. He is due just over $1 million over the rest of the 2013 season.
Seattle Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan was in the doghouse with manager Eric Wedge earlier this season, and is a free agent after this year. Generally regarded as a defensive wizard, Ryan has an abysmal .518 OPS this season.
The Kansas City Royals asked about Chicago White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham, but nothing has come of the rumors yet. Beckham played six innings at shortstop this season, but would like move Infante over to short if acquired. Given his uptick in offensive production and team-friendly contract -- he's under club control through the 2015 season -- it's hard to see the White Sox parting ways with the 26 year old.
Long story short: hope and pray that Peralta isn't suspended. There are several shortstops that can theoretically be had at the deadline, but none that can provide enough production to warrant their cost going forward.
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