The rumor mill spins quickly when a team is wracked by injuries. In the case of the Detroit Tigers, who are prowling for possible replacements for the injured Jose Iglesias and Andy Dirks, the latest spin of the wheel points toward the Chicago Cubs.
Reports out of the Windy City have the Tigers' top men scouting a pair of Cubs: Outfielder Nate Schierholtz and middle infielder Darwin Barney.
Via CBS Chicago's Bruce Levine:
In need of outfield and infield help, the Detroit Tigers have their top scout watching the Cubs this week. Outfielder Nate Schierholtz and middle infielder Darwin Barney are both being evaluated by Tigers long-time executive Scott Reid.
Though he's been the Cubs' primary second baseman the past three seasons, the 28-year-old Barney would be targeted as a replacement for Iglesias. He does have some big league experience one the left side of the infield, having played 19 games at short and six at third since 2010. An exceptional gloveman at second, Barney won a Gold Glove at the position in 2012, committing just four errors in 603 chances in 2013.
Offensively, the right-hand swinging Barney doesn't bring much value, hitting .246/.293/.336 in 1657 at bats over four seasons. In 2013 Barney played in 141 games, all at second base, hitting a career low .208/.266/.303, posting a .569 OPS, seven home runs and 41 RBIs. But his two previous seasons were far better offensively (relatively speaking), averaging .265/.306/.354 in 2011-2012.
Barney avoided going to arbitration this past off season by agreeing to a $2.3 million, one-year contract. He'd be under team control until 2017.
Schierholtz is a left-hand hitter who has played all three outfield positions. The Cubs are looking to make playing time for their younger outfielders and have made the 30-year-old available for the right offer. Helping to force the issue is Schierholtz is in the final year of his contract and is owed $5 million for the coming season.
Schierholtz received the most playing time of his seven-year career (five plus seasons with the Giants) with the Cubs as their full-time right-fielder in 2013. Schierholtz repaid the Cubs' faith with the most productive season of his career, hitting .251/.301/.470, posting a .770 OPS in 503 at bats, reaching career highs in home runs and RBIs with 21 and 68.
Despite having five times the at bats against right-handed pitching, Schierholtz doesn't have vastly pronounced left/right splits over his career. Facing right-handers, Schierholtz has hit .265/.314/.438, compared to .265/.315/.367 against lefties. But in 2013, Schierholtz was far more dangerous offensively against right-handed pitching, posting a .799 OPS versus a mere .553 against southpaws.
As they would in every rumored deal being discussed by the Tigers of late, the word out of Chicago is Detroit would have to fork over pitching to the Cubs in return for Schierholtz and/or Barney.