On Sunday, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe addressed the impending July 31 trade deadline in his weekly notes column. He mentions that Jimmy Rollins, a name oft-associated with teams in need of a shortstop, is likely to stay in Philadelphia for the remainder of the season. Specifically, he indicates that the Detroit Tigers are sticking with Eugenio Suarez for the time being.
That's not shocking in the least, as Jimmy Rollins and his 35-year old glove are not a great fit for the left side of the Tigers' infield. What I found interesting, and somewhat amusing, was listed within the same article as somewhat of an afterthought.
Scouts hearing the Tigers are really impressed with rookie shortstop Eugenio Suarez and may trade Iglesias, who has missed this season with stress fractures in both shins.
Jose Iglesias was brought over the day before last year's trade deadline. He didn't come cheap, as General Manager Dave Dombrowski sent highly regarded outfield prospect Avisail Garcia to the Chicago White Sox in a three-team deal. Jhonny Peralta was moved to left field following his return from suspension, and Jose Iglesias was anointed the Tigers' shortstop of the future. His ability to make eye-popping plays on the ball combined with his speed, youth, and affordable team control were cause for elation, envisioning a more defensive-oriented approach to the position than fans have seen in recent years.
During spring training this year, it was announced that Iglesias had stress fractures in both shins, jeopardizing the entire 2014 season. A revolving door of underwhelming options were put on display before the Tigers finally settled on Suarez.
Suarez has played well above what anyone could have predicted to this point. He is hitting a respectable .254/.343/.389 on the season, and his .327 wOBA is above average for a skill position. He comes into today with an oWAR of 1.0 in only 41 games. Defensively, he has been average or slightly above, committing four errors and making the majority of the routine plays. Small sample size be damned, his 2.4 UZR would put him well above Elvis Andrus, Brandon Crawford, and Starlin Castro. At the very least he is an adequate defender.
So, let's play Cafardo's game and go along with the idea of Dombrowski wanting to move Iglesias to make room for Suarez. Suarez has been good this year, there is no denying that. But are the Tigers currently in a position where they want to place all of their proverbial eggs in Suarez's basket?
No. They're not. Here's why:
Eugenio Suarez has played 41 Major League baseball games. On the season he has hit a respectable three home runs — all of which occurred in the first eight games of his career. It seems like the league has figured him out rather quickly. Caution would be advised given the Tigers' history with players in similar situations. On top of that, Suarez has more trade value at this point. Not that either of the two are likely to be moved, but if they were, would you prefer to get a return on a player with some actual value? Suarez has the ability to back up second base or third base if needed, and could play an important role on the right club. Think of him as a poor man's Ben Zobrist. In fact, couldn't he be the Tigers' Ben Zobrist?
Iglesias' trade value has never been lower. Most teams are not looking to invest in a kid with one full season under his belt, coming off a season-ending injury. His legs and glove are what make him valuable, and if he is working with two bad legs, how much value is actually there? The idea of trading Iglesias, who will net very little in return, is actually ridiculous. Unless he recovers, plays in the Venezuelan winter league, hits .800 and steals 43 bases he will never have less value as a prospective trade chip. In effect, Dombrowski would have traded Avisail Garcia for next to nothing.
Iglesias is also the better overall player. The offensive gap between the two players is not substantial now that Suarez has come back to Earth. Even if Suarez were to eclipse Iglesias by five to 10 home runs and .30 points on his batting average yearly, what Iglesias provides defensively and with his speed more than makes up for it. He is an elite defender and a legitimate base-stealing threat.
So what profit could the Tigers make by dealing him?
Barring a trade for a better option at shortstop like Ben Zobrist (yes!), what's the harm in bringing Suarez and Iglesias to camp next year and letting them battle it out? As mentioned earlier, Suarez is capable of providing depth at multiple positions, so if Iglesias were to win his spot back, and I am assuming he would, Suarez would make a great utility option. Are we to believe that trading Iglesias now and handing the job to Suarez makes the team better long-term? Nonsense.
Ultimately, this seems like the result of unfounded rumor-mongering. It's unlikely that any indication one way or another would be given at this point anyway. Certainly the future of Iglesias in particular would be decided after the Tigers' can get a better read on his recovery process.
If you need more proof as to the value of Iglesias, further reading can be found here.
Now, if someone has Nick Cafardo's contact information, please forward it to me, I have a link I need to share with him.