The Detroit Tigers will probably end up with moderately active trade deadline, selling a few pieces but hanging onto the majority of their players. Even though only a few may end up traded, general manager Al Avila is likely to hear calls on the majority of his regular starting lineup. Perhaps one of these players is shortstop Jose Iglesias, an asset who was rumored to be on the market during the offseason.
Iglesias has been with the Tigers for about three seasons worth of playing time and has been a serviceable component of the Tigers infield. From the start he was touted as a glove-first player, but his surprising BABIP during the beginning of his tenure allowed him to finish 2013 and 2015 as a .300 hitter. A lack of power, including just 10 total home runs, has given him 80 wRC+ during his time in Detroit.
Defensively, Iglesias has accumulated highlight reels of stellar plays. Determining his true value in the field has been a tough task for analytics and analysts alike, and his 9 DRS and 7.7 UZR with the Tigers point to this trend. Though he may be prone to a mental mistake from time to time, Iglesias has been a solid defender and his glove has balanced out his batting to make him a useful starter the past three seasons.
While Iglesias may not be the most prolific member of the Detroit roster, he does possess something that few of his teammates do: a reasonable contract. The 27-year-old is making slightly over $4 million this year and has another year of arbitration remaining before hitting the market in 2019. A player with his level of value could net a modest return for the Tigers.
For the Tigers to be willing to make a move, they would need a plan at shortstop post-Iglesias, and it appears that Dixon Machado is the perfect option. Machado has worked his way up the Tigers system since 2009, making brief appearances the last two seasons before finding a more permanent home on the 25-man roster. Under contract for five more seasons, the 25-year old costs next to nothing relative to his peers.
For a fraction of the cost, Machado may be able to replace much of what Iglesias brought to Detroit. With just 65 games and 165 plate appearances to go off of, the sample sizes are small for Machado, but the early signs are positive. For example, his .268/.327/.329 career slash line with Detroit is very comparable to Iglesias’s .269/.314/.351 marks with the Tigers. Machado hit his first homer on Thursday and sits at 77 wRC+ in his career, barely below Iglesias’s 80 wRC+.
Defensively, the jury is still out, but Machado looks to be no worse than average. In limited playing time he has racked up -1 DRS and 2.0 UZR. He may not be the defensive wizard that Iglesias can be, but his defense should not be a detriment or liability. The slight downgrade with the glove is not enough to scare away the idea of Machado becoming the new Tigers shortstop.
Machado is still early in his career, so handing him the position is a gamble. However, statistically he looks like a fair swap from Iglesias and he has done well so far in 2017, his first season with legitimate playing time. If he can stay anywhere near his 98 wRC+ this year going forward, the Tigers would be wise to move on from Iglesias. Machado can make him redundant and gives the front office another piece to trade at the upcoming deadline.