It appears that Matthew Boyd is back on the trade market this offseason, according to a report by Jon Morosi on Monday morning. The lefty lead the team in both rWAR (3.5) and fWAR (3.3) and anchored the Tigers’ starting rotation in the wake of Michael Fulmer undergoing UCL reconstruction surgery.
Boyd was a force to be reckoned with in the early months of the season — he put up a 3.13 ERA in March/April and lowered that figure to 2.55 in May. The peripherals backed up his performance during that span as well — 10.90 strikeouts per nine innings, 1.86 walks per nine innings, and a completely sustainable batting average on balls in play.
His season took a turn for the worse in June, though, and he was never quite able to recover. Boyd’s single-month ERA was never lower than September’s 4.43 mark and although his strikeouts ticked up, so did his walks. It was an ugly stretch that was highlighted — or perhaps lowlighted — by a pair of August outings against Kansas City and Seattle that saw 12 runs cross the plate in only 8 innings.
Despite his rocky second half, it’s easy to see why teams would be kicking the tires on a potential trade for Detroit’s top starter. His stuff looked better in 2019 than it had at any other point in his career. Even throughout his roughest stretches, he was still striking out tons of hitters and his walk rate was never completely unacceptable. He’s famously motivated to an extreme degree, and has plans to augment his already extensive conditioning regimen this winter.
The Tigers’ de facto ace attracted quite a bit of interest at the trade deadline but no deal was agreed upon when the curtain closed on trades for the season. The Tigers’ asking price for their prize pitcher was prohibitive to a deal being struck, but the club isn’t backing down on their demands. General Manager Al Avila is reportedly asking for an impact position player who is either MLB-ready or close to breaking through to the majors.
Those factors severely limit the market for Boyd despite his potential as a number two starter with a few savvy adjustments. The last few seasons have seen management groups become increasing unwilling to part with top prospects and it could be tough to justify moving a key piece for him. On the other hand, he was still a valuable contributor in 2019 and has three years of club control remaining and is likely the best pitcher available to organizations who are either unable or unwilling to hand out large contracts to the top free agents.
At the moment, there’s very little substance to this rumor, but it’s completely unsurprising the Tigers would be shopping the 2019 Tiger of the Year. There has been minimal effort on the part of the front office to improve the product on the major league field over the last two seasons and the team’s prospects of competing within the next few seasons are slim unless ownership commits to spending significant money on better players.
Avila has a track record of striking early in the offseason, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this rumor during the coming weeks.