With less than a week to go until the MLB trade deadline, the odds of the Detroit Tigers making a big move continue to decrease. General manager Al Avila has already mentioned that the team is likely to continue with the roster they have, citing high asking prices and limited payroll flexibility as reasons for standing pat. Tigers fans may have gotten used to blockbuster deals in late July, but Avila seemingly has a different philosophy than his predecessor, Dave Dombrowski.
Despite Avila’s public comments, it would not be too surprising to see the Tigers make some sort of move before the deadline. If the Tigers prefer to make a smaller change, one area that can always use improvement is the bullpen. This past weekend, Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi reported that Detroit has already looked into two Philadelphia Phillies who could be a match: Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris.
Adding a reliever at the trade deadline would be a familiar course of action for the Tigers. In fact, it would mark the third time in four years that the team has gone this route, acquiring Jose Veras from the Houston Astros in 2013 and Joakim Soria from the Texas Rangers in 2014. With the Phillies clearly out of the playoff chase, they could be the perfect trading partner for the Tigers.
Who are they?
Gomez and Neris are far from household names, but for no fault of their own. Each has quietly put together a solid season in Philadelphia while the rest of their peers have mostly struggled. Both pitchers would be excellent additions to the Tigers bullpen and would easily be improvements over many of the current relievers that the team is choosing to use on a nightly basis.
Though Gomez did not enter the season as the Philadelphia closer, he has pitched well since taking on the role. He boasts a 2.70 ERA and 3.50 FIP this season with just 2.12 walks per nine innings to go with a stellar 1.82 WPA and 8.30 RE24. Pitching in his fifth season, Gomez has never been a high-strikeout reliever and is averaging only 5.59 strikeouts per nine innings this season. However, he has maintained a ground ball rate of over 50 percent throughout his career and sits at 52.1 percent this year.
Neris is in just his second season in the majors but has had a very impressive 2016. His 2.61 ERA and 3.37 FIP are certainly intriguing, but it is his 10.97 strikeouts per nine and 67.6 percent contact rate that really jump off the page (the league average for NL relievers is 76.9 percent). Neris averages 94 miles per hour on his four-seamer but loves to throw his splitter, which he uses on over half of his pitches. Opponents are hitting just .176 off of it this season and are hitting only .207 against him overall.
More bang for the buck
Either righty would be a great addition to the Tigers bullpen, but only at a reasonable cost. It looks again like a seller’s market at the trade deadline, and the Tigers certainly have experienced some regrets after swapping prospects for relievers. Given that Gomez has another year of control remaining and Neris has not even reached arbitration, the Phillies are unlikely to simply give either of them away. Even second-tier names can command a sharp price at the deadline, and at some point the cost becomes too high.
But if the Tigers can negotiate a fair price with Philadelphia, adding one of Gomez or Neris seems like a great decision. While large player swaps involving big-name superstars are always more exciting, sometimes teams are better off making smaller moves. If the Tigers feel like they are in that situation, trading for one of these relievers make a lot of sense. Either would be an important addition to a shallow bullpen and could help provide some needed stability for the last two months of the season.