The Detroit Tigers are one of just eight MLB teams who have yet to make a move leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline (4:00 p.m. ET on Monday, August 1), but that might change soon. ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported that the Tigers have looked into acquiring lefthander Hector Santiago from the Los Angeles Angels. Stark says that the move “still seems unlikely” but things could change quickly as we move closer to the deadline.
Santiago has struggled at times this season, but his 4.25 ERA and 1.33 WHIP would still be an upgrade compared to some of the other starters the Tigers have used this season. He also has a track record of success, with a career 3.68 ERA in 653 1/3 career innings with the Angels and Chicago White Sox. Santiago was an All-Star in 2015 when he posted a 6-4 record and 2.33 ERA in the first half for Los Angeles.
Santiago has a history of out-performing his peripheral numbers, as his 4.63 career FIP is nearly a full run higher than his ERA. Santiago has a career 21.1 percent strikeout rate, but has walked 10.4 percent of the batters he has faced. He has also been bitten by the home run ball at times, including a homer rate of 1.49 dingers allowed per nine innings this season. Santiago has never managed a FIP below 4.29 in his major league career.
Santiago offers an interesting mix of pitches, including a four-seam fastball in the low 90s and a solid changeup that helps him limit damage against right-handed batters. Righties have hit .235 with a .425 slugging average off Santiago in his career, though he has been betrayed by his command at times. Once known for throwing a screwball, he has eschewed that offering in exchange for a more traditional mix of breaking pitches. He primarily uses his slider against lefties, with a cutter and changeup interspersed against both righties and lefties.
The sticking point for the Tigers seems to be the Angels’ asking price in return. Like many teams, the Angels are interested in receiving either Matt Boyd or Daniel Norris in return for the 28-year-old Santiago. Given Santiago’s contract — he has one year of arbitration remaining before reaching free agency after the 2017 season — and the ample club control remaining for both Norris and Boyd, the Tigers’ refusal to deal is justified.
Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Tigers are also interested in Phillies righthander Jeremy Hellickson, but have several names on their list. Hellickson has had a bounce-back season in Philadelphia, managing a 3.68 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 22 starts. He has cut his walk rate dramatically this year, and survived his typical high home run rate, resulting in a manageable 4.11 FIP in 131 1/3 innings. The 2011 AL Rookie of the Year has a 3.90 ERA and 4.34 FIP in over career 900 innings.