In the wee hours of the night, while many struggled to stay awake, the Tigers worked out the final details of a trade with the Chicago Cubs that would send closer Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila to the Windy City in return for prospect infielders Jeimer Candelario, Isaac Paredes, and a player to be named later or cash.
While the general response to the return earlier the month on outfielder J.D. Martinez was negative, this time around most experts seem to agree that Al Avila did well with the trade return.
With Avila being a rental, the prospect return was never going to be remarkable, but people were watching the Wilson trade with interest, because as a left-handed reliever he was one of the hottest options available on the trade market, with at least 10 different teams showing serious interest at one point or another. So, what did people have to say about the return he ultimately netted?
Matt Snyder of CBS likes the trade for both sides, citing Wilson’s extra year of play time as a big bonus, meaning he can take over the closer role from Wade Davis next season. He also likes that by acquiring Wilson the Cubs have effectively blocked competing NL teams like the Nationals from picking him up.
As for the return to the Tigers, Snyder says:
Candelario can play first base or third base. With the Tigers, he'll also have a shot at DH. While a prospect many like, he was pretty expendable for the Cubs, given that Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are blocking him for the foreseeable future. He's currently blocked in Detroit, too, by Miguel Cabrera, Nick Castellanos and Victor Martinez, but the Tigers are rebuilding, so stockpiling younger assets regardless of position is a good move.
Paredes is an 18-year-old shortstop and third baseman currently playing in Class A. Through 91 games, he's hitting .261/.341/.399 with 25 doubles, seven home runs, 49 RBI, 49 runs and two stolen bases. He's certainly projectable, but far away from the majors. Again, this makes sense for both sides.
The notion that Candelario was being blocked by the Cubs is a popular one across the board. It seems that most believed he was being held back from reaching his full potential because of a stacked young roster of infield talent in the Cubs dugout already.
Detroit Free Press’s Anthony Fenech, who was among the first to break the news the trade had been made, echoed Snyder’s sentiments on Candelario.
He fits the profile of the type of player the Tigers were waiting for in return for Wilson: An upper-tier prospect who is close to major league-ready. Multiple evaluators contacted by the Free Press believe he has the potential to be an everyday third baseman, though it’s unclear of the Tigers’ future plans for him.
ESPN Insider’s David Schoenfield was less glowing about the trade as far as the return to the Tigers went. He gave the deal an A for the Cubs but only a C+ to the Tigers. He, too, mentioned Candelario’s stunted room for growth, but was blunt about his opinions of Candelario as a prospect:
I think he has been a little overhyped as a prospect -- MLB.com had him as the Cubs' top prospect after the trade of Eloy Jimenez, as he seems to be a player with a high floor compared to a high ceiling. He's viewed as an average defensive third baseman, which would be a big edge over the awful Nick Castellanos.
He has little to add about Paredes, but overall he sums up the trade as being pretty “meh” given Wilson’s popularity on the market.
Paredes is an 18-year-old holding his own in the Midwest League, has some power potential, but probably doesn't stick at shortstop. If you look at Candalerio, it's a solid return for Detroit, but Wilson is probably the top reliever available and I thought the Tigers could do a little better for him and Avila.
David Cameron of FanGraphs weighed in on the trade as well. He suggested that Candelario isn’t a sure thing, but there are upsides.
But as a young switch hitter with some upside who might be capable of going right to Detroit, the Tigers get someone whose value could increase quickly if he hits out of the gate. If they can show that he’s either a good enough defender to play third in the big leagues or hit better than the projections expected, Candelario could be a nice solid piece for them long-term. There’s probably not a lot of high-end potential here, but Candelario looks like a pretty safe bet to provide some value in the big leagues.
Cameron sums up the deal perhaps better than anyone when he succinctly observes, “Unlike many of the deals so far that looked slanted towards the buyer, this seems like a perfectly reasonable trade for both sides.”
Twitter responses to the trade were even relatively measured compared to the Martinez trade.
No longer a tigers fan because they traded Alex Avila.— Alexxx (@AlexJacoby9) July 31, 2017
Errr, there were a lot of those, but also some level-headed reactions.
the Tigers new long term strategy: re-sign Alex Avila in the offseason, flip him for more prospects— uɐɯssnS ʇʇɐW (@suss2hyphens) July 31, 2017
Is the system better? Yes.— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) July 31, 2017
Is it full/fixed? No.
But it's step one. https://t.co/WVPLlZw2O4
Also, in case you were unaware, everyone REALLY wanted to talk about how Al Avila traded his son.
All in all it’s a solid trade for the Tigers.