If general manager Al Avila has his way, Jose Iglesias might not be the Tigers’ shortstop for much longer. Detroit’s GM was his usual probably-too-honest self in an interview on 97.1 “The Ticket” Thursday, admitting that Iglesias likely would not be on the roster after his contract expires following the 2018 season.
“[Iglesias] is one of those guys that, quite frankly, probably will not be with us in the long run,” Avila said. “We have to make sure that we develop a good shortstop in our system for our future.”
Iglesias is entering his final season of club control before reaching free agency. He made $4.1 million last season and is projected to earn $5.6 million in his last year of arbitration. While this is chump change for a starting caliber shortstop, Iglesias has posted back-to-back seasons with an OPS+ below 75. His WAR values have not fluctuated much due to his excellent defense (and the associated volatility of defensive metrics), but it’s hard to argue the Tigers couldn’t find equivalent value at a cheaper price in 2019.
Why this matters: It doesn’t, really. With Dixon Machado waiting in the wings and several infielders scattered throughout the lower minors, Iglesias was never going to be the long-term answer at short. Avila’s comments are probably unnecessary — and continue a pattern of saying just a little too much — but not damning in any way. It’s too early to rule out any sort of short-term reunion between Iglesias and the Tigers, but this certainly makes that outcome seem less likely.
What about his trade value? In theory, Iglesias should be a fairly valuable trade asset. He’s one of the best defenders in baseball, and is still on an affordable contract. However, we seem to be in the next “golden era” of shortstops across Major League Baseball. Nearly every contender has a cost-controlled shortstop producing above-average value on both sides of the ball. Few teams truly need shortstops right now, making the market for Iglesias’ services almost nonexistent. If he does get dealt, it will probably be to a surprise contender — looking at you, Pittsburgh Pirates — along with some salary relief in July.