The Tigers’ starting rotation problems have been well documented this season, and with the non-waiver trade deadline coming up on Monday, August 1, they have less than a week to decide if they want to make an impact move to improve it. In a statement that shouldn’t surprise anyone, the woeful Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (is that what they’re going by now?) are listening to offers on a pair of starters in Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago.
As Jon Heyman explains in this grammatical-nightmare of a tweet, the Angels are looking for players on the cusp of helping their major league roster. Mike Trout is still a 10-win player, and a quick rebuild is in the Angels’ best interest while they have that valuable piece under team control.
While Santiago probably won’t be any better than what the Tigers have at the back of their rotation — he’s sporting a 4.28 ERA, 4.95 FIP, and 1.98 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season — Shoemaker would represent a significant upgrade for Detroit down the stretch. After getting off to a disastrous start in April, posting an ERA of 9.15 and a FIP of 6.82, he has quietly become one of the better pitchers in the American League. On the year, Shoemaker has a stellar FIP of 3.29, and is striking out batters at a rate of 9.19 per nine innings and walking only 1.84 per nine.
Another positive more than worth mentioning about Shoemaker is that he is not simply a trade deadline rental. With four years of club control remaining, he not only presents a significant upgrade in the rotation, but also gives the Tigers a cost-controlled asset who could fill a rotation spot for years to come. He is a Super-Two player and will go through arbitration four times before hitting free agency, but is still a great value. Trading for Shoemaker now would assure that the Tigers don’t need to overpay for a starter in free agency
While he hasn't been particularly good this year, Hector Santiago has been successful in the past, and it's not out of the question for the Tigers to take a flier on him due to his value being down. Though he's always posted a less-than-encouraging FIP — 4.61 for his career — he has shown a keen ability to outperform it with a 3.68 career ERA.
This year he has not had the same luck, but some could argue that a change of scenery would do him some good. He's inducing ground balls at the highest rate of his career, (discounting the five innings he pitched in 2011), and his line drive rate is way below career norms, so there's hope that a different defense could help him. He only has one more year of club control remaining. While he's likely to cost significantly less than Shoemaker, he doesn't necessarily represent a worthwhile upgrade over the likes of Matt Boyd or even Mike Pelfrey.
Although they have made some mind-numbingly stupid moves in the past, it’s tough to see the Angels giving up Shoemaker for peanuts, at least not this season. At age 29, he is making just over $500,000, and will continue to be cheap for the remainder of his prime years. Considering the Angels are looking for major league ready talent in return, good ol’ Arte Moreno is looking to have his boys back in the hunt next season. With that idea in mind, Shoemaker could certainly help them next year, and will be joined by a healthy Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney, and more importantly, no Jered Weaver or C.J. Wilson.
It’s not unreasonable to see the Angels asking for Daniel Norris as the centerpiece in a deal for Shoemaker. Al Avila has stated multiple times that he doesn’t want to part with any of his top pitching prospects, but there’s no way to tell if that rhetoric is a smoke screen. While the price may be steep, Matt Shoemaker has pitched like an ace for the last three months, and due to his four years of club control remaining, making a move now could pay dividends for the Tigers this season and for seasons down the road.