Throughout the month of July, lefthander Justin Wilson received the most attention of any Detroit Tigers player on the trade market. That attention reached a fever pitch on Sunday, and Wilson was traded to the Chicago Cubs, according to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News. Catcher Alex Avila will also be included in the deal. The Tigers will receive third baseman Jeimer Candelario, shortstop Isaac Paredes, and a player to be named later.
Wilson was one of the top relief arms available on the trade market, in no small part thanks to the numbers he has put up this season. Through 40 1⁄3 innings, Wilson has allowed a 2.68 ERA and 3.22 FIP. He has racked up 55 strikeouts to just 16 walks, and has converted 13 of 15 save opportunities since taking over the closer’s role in May. He went nearly all of April without allowing a hit, and has only allowed runs in eight of his 42 appearances for the Tigers this season.
If anthing, the Tigers seem to have sold high on Wilson. His 35.0 percent strikeout rate is nearly 10 percentage points higher than last season’s 25.9 percent, and well above his career norms. He has increased his swinging strike rate as well this season, but his FIP hints that some regression may be imminent.
Thanks to a breakout season at the plate, Avila turned himself into a tradeable asset for Detroit. He is hitting .271/.392/.472 with 11 home runs in 263 plate appearances this year, his highest OPS (.864) since his All-Star campaign in 2011. Unfortunately, he has fallen off a bit lately, with a .422 OPS in July. He will be a free agent at the end of the season, while Wilson has another year of club control remaining before he can test the open market.
The first confirmed player heading to Detroit is infielder Jeimer Candelario. Ranked Chicago’s No. 5 prospect heading into the 2017 season by Baseball Prospectus, he projects as a solid major leaguer with a high floor. He is a switch-hitter with a potential plus hit tool and a plus arm. These tools should translate to average defensive production at third base, but there are minor questions about his glove work.
Cubs fan with some Candelario info pic.twitter.com/TV1IyXqqts— Center Line CFL Fan (@RichThomeQuan) July 31, 2017
Paredes is an 18-year-old shortstop playing for the South Bend Cubs in the Single-A Midwest League. Baseball America ranked Paredes as the Cubs’ No. 5 prospect in their midseason rankings, with Candelario ninth. MLB Pipeline ranked Candelario as the No. 92 overall prospect in baseball in their latest update.
Though outfielder Mark Zagunis was also a rumored target after he was scratched from the Iowa Cubs (AAA) lineup on Sunday, the Tigers have made their focus clear. They have acquired five infielders through two trades, including a pair of high upside teenagers in Paredes and Jose King.