This season, man. Despite owning one of the more talented rosters in the American League, the Detroit Tigers have been unable to put together a solid stretch of wins. They are 37-50 since their 11-2 start, and just 4-8 since the All-Star break. They have not won consecutive games since July 8-9, and their last three-game win streak came over a month ago. They have not won four consecutive games since their six-game win streak to begin the season. Tuesday's loss to the Tampa Bay Rays dropped them to fourth place in the AL Central.
However, for those holding out hope that the Tigers will buy at the trade deadline, you're in luck. A scuffling Minnesota Twins team has kept the Tigers in contention, as well as a glut of other mediocre clubs in the American League. The Twins are 3-7 since the All-Star break and beginning to have closer issues of their own. Glen Perkins has blown two of three save opportunities since the break, and also took the loss in last night's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Minnesota's rough stretch is nothing new -- the Twins are 22-28 since June 1 -- but many are afraid of what it will do to the Tigers' trade deadline plans. Will Detroit go all-in and hope they can blow past the four teams in front of them for a playoff berth? Or will they take their recent stretch as a sign that 2015 just isn't their year?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly listening on offers for All-Star outfielder Yasiel Puig, according to Bob Nightengale of the USA Today. Puig is a talented but oft-maligned right fielder who lives up to his "Wild Horse" moniker. He put up 5.3 WAR in 2014 while batting .296/.382/.480 with 16 home runs and 11 stolen bases, but has been worth just 0.8 WAR in 54 games this season. Puig has dealt with nagging injuries this season, but declines in both walk and strikeout rate are never encouraging.
In a vacuum, I would love to have Puig in Detroit. He's an exciting, talented player who can hit, run, and field his position. However, given the current state of the Tigers' franchise, I don't think there's any chance he winds up in Detroit. The Dodgers know what they have in Puig, and will be asking for top-dollar in return. I think that Puig's perceived character issues are overblown, and the relative interest shown in Dodgers' prospects over Puig are due to cost and club control, not fear of his antics. The Tigers don't have the pieces in their farm system to acquire a talent like Puig, and one of the players they would likely have to give up (J.D. Martinez) makes Puig largely redundant.
While Neil has been on the #TeamSell train for a while, he makes some salient points in this article about the Tigers potentially matching up with the San Diego Padres as trade partners. The Padres have reportedly put everyone and their mother on the trading block, and if last offseason is any indication, general manager A.J. Preller isn't afraid to make a splash. Here's Neil's suggestion:
And oddly, combining the two would look an awful lot like what the Tigers need. The Tigers have a great offense but their pitching is very bad. The problem the team faces, and the reason I’ve argued for selling, is that they would need both quantity and quality in order to make a run. Enter Shields and Cashner. You might be able to squeeze three wins out of the pair in 2015, and thanks to the salaries involved, you could do so without paying Johnny Cueto prices.
He goes on to suggest that the Tigers could also grab Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton, screaming "YOLO!" as they add bad contract after bad contract.
It's crazy enough to work. Both Cashner and Shields have their warts (Cashner is injury-prone, Shields is old and expensive), but both are major upgrades for 2015 and give the Tigers some security for 2016. Neither one of them will replace David Price alone, but the two of them could easily outpace the production of Price and Alfredo Simon next year. Shields is under contract for two more seasons after that, and if he can return his walk rate to pre-2015 levels, his game should age relatively well. Kimbrel has struggled (by his standards) in 2015 but would be a monster addition to the Tigers' bullpen. Upton's contract is crazy awful, and it takes a very rosy disposition to even see him as a platoon partner for Anthony Gose next year.
If that's what it takes, though? The Tigers might just be willing to do it.
@blessyouboys should the tigers trade Kinsler? Along with the rumored Price and YO.— Dan Bartley (@DBart88) July 28, 2015
While others have advocated for this in the past, I am not a fan of the idea of trading Ian Kinsler. He has gone through long stretches of anemic offensive production in both 2014 and 2015, but is a Gold Glove caliber second baseman that provides more value to the Tigers than he would return in a trade. Remember, Kinsler led the Tigers with 5.1 WAR last season, and he is on pace to eclipse the 4.0 WAR barrier this season. The low walk rate from last season has corrected itself, as has the power outage from earlier this year. With two years and a guaranteed $30 million left on his contract (including a $5 million buyout of his 2018 option), Kinsler is a fair bet to provide quite a bit of surplus value going forward.
The one potential trade partner that would make sense for Kinsler is the New York Yankees. They have had major issues at second base this season, ranking dead last among MLB teams with -1.6 WAR. Stephen Drew has gotten the lion's share of playing time for them this season, batting just .187/.261/.377. Their fans are ready to get rid of him at all costs -- think of how we felt about Joe Nathan last season -- and prospect Rob Refsnyder isn't quite ready to take over the job. The Yankees have the farm system to swing a deal (Refsnyder himself would be a nice piece), and they aren't shy about adding payroll.
@blessyouboys can you give more clarification on the Cespades contract situation? I know he can't receive a QO, but is there more to it?— Denny (@sydanddensdad) July 28, 2015
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal described Yoenis Cespedes' contract situation recently, indicating why the Tigers may be more inclined to move him at the trade deadline.
In other words, the Tigers hold exclusive negotiating rights with Cespedes only through the five-day window at the end of the World Series. After that, they would be at a disadvantage unless he was willing to sit out until May 15.
Cespedes has indicated that he would like to stay in Detroit, but is also interested in testing the free agent market after the season. He may be inclined to forego negotiations if the Tigers throw gobs of money at him at some point in the next couple months, but there's no way he's waiting until May 15 to sign a deal.