It looks like Nicholas Castellanos isn’t the only Tiger drawing trade interest this offseason. Lefty reliever Blaine Hardy has piqued the interest of the Oakland Athletics, who are looking to bolster their pitching roster with someone who can do double duty as a starter and long reliever.
Hardy played that role with aplomb for the Tigers this season, and with the addition of lefty Matt Moore who seems poised to take over that position in 2019, another team might want to snap up Hardy.
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Hardy is definitely drawing some interest from the A’s. Currently only 31, and with three years of service time remaining before free agency, Hardy would be an appealing get for a team that wants a malleable arm in their rotation.
Though the Tigers seem to clearly be eyeing Hardy for a bullpen role this year — the addition of swingmen like Moore and Tyson Ross doesn’t leave much space for him in the starting rotation — Hardy is still one of the most valuable pitchers on the team, and the Tigers shouldn’t take a trade offer lightly. Last season, Hardy did everything he needed to do to prove his value to the team, by adjusting his entire pitching approach, becoming a Triple-A starter, and really helping keep the team afloat as other traditional starters were felled by injury.
There are several reasons the Tigers shouldn’t let Hardy go. For one, their bullpen already needs as much help as it can get, with the Tigers willing to let Alex Wilson walk during arbitration. Hardy is a lefty who can fill a long relief role, or anything else the Tigers throw at him, really. Last season he had a 3.56 ERA, a 3.97 FIP, and a 1.17 WHIP, collecting a career-high 66 strikeouts in 86 innings of work.
If the Tigers really do plan to consider the “opener” strategy periodically, then Hardy is precisely the kind of pitcher they will most want to have in their arsenal. He can deliver over a long stretch, and has proven himself to be consistent and reliable.
So yeah, the A’s might want him, but the Tigers would be wise to walk away and keep Hardy in Detroit.