The July 31 trade deadline looms large in the mind of baseball fans this week. As it draws closer and teams are playing their annual game of chicken, our latest look through the keyhole comes from Jon Morosi of MLB Network, who reported on Tuesday that the Los Angeles Dodgers were looking to add another bullpen arm before Wednesday’s cutoff. The report included that one of the players that they are in negotiations for is Tigers closer Shane Greene.
The Dodgers have an embarrassment of prospect riches, but there’s a large gap between the best in the system and the ones who aren’t on top 100 lists. As with the Oakland A’s, there’s not an obvious match between the two teams in terms of which players would exchange hands, but the Tigers could still come away with a respectable haul for their trouble.
For a reliever with mostly solid-but-not great peripherals like Greene, the top guys in the Dodgers’ system will be out of bounds. That means that prospects like red-hot shortstop Gavin Lux, spin rate darling Dustin May, and bat-first catcher Keibert Ruiz will almost certainly not be in play for Detroit. However, there are still a boatload of guys who the Tigers could be interested in.
There are plenty of bats available
The Dodgers system is a pretty well-balanced one, but the Tigers’ farm is far more lopsided towards pitching talent. That makes it reasonable to believe Detroit could be targeting bats in trade talks with Los Angeles. It isn’t impossible that the Tigers are able to finagle a deal that returns them catcher Will Smith, whose hot start in the MLB is far more than who prospect evaluators expected and has endeared him to Dodgers fans. It’s isn’t a likely outcome.
Turing our attention to the lesser position prospects, one name who stands out is Jeter Downs. The infielder has spent significant time at both second base and shortstop and is a viable option at either spot. His approach at the plate is contact-over-power but his entire game is well-rounded and none of his skills are particularly below average. He would immediately rival Isaac Paredes as the best infielder in the system.
Another infielder who could strike the Tigers’ fancy is shortstop Jacob Amaya. He has also played on both sides of the bag and is batting .262/.381/.401 on the season in Low-A. Los Angeles snagged him in the 11th round of the 2017 draft and paid him a bonus that came in well over-slot.
“He’s very much a work in progress,” said one NL Scout of Amaya. “The power and discipline will come later, but that’s typical of A-Ball guys. He’ll have to move to second or third eventually, but the bat will carry him there.”
One prospect who could have an immediate impact on the Tigers’ major league club is right fielder D.J. Peters. “His hit balls carry with loft and backspin,” wrote Baseball Prospectus last year, “and his exit velocity can light up a radar gun when he gets one on the screws.” Strikeouts will always plague him, but that power is for real. That has shown up on the field this season, as he’s swatted 22 home runs across two levels, including 23 games in Triple-A, where he’s hitting .346/.470/.731.
That line is obviously unsustainable, especially when combined with a .373 batting average on balls in play. He was also scorching the ball in Double-A and can be a big league contributor sooner than later.
Pitching prospects could still come into play
Tony Gonsolin is one of the more underrated arms in the whole of the minor leagues, and he would be an interesting addition to the Tigers’ already strong group of pitching prospects. Scouts peg him as having two plus offerings — a fastball and a curve — and a double-plus splitter that serves as a genuine swing-and-miss offering. He also mixes in a less impressive slider that has a chance to be average and uses his excellent athleticism to his advantage.
What’s the catch? He gets hit harder than the stuff suggests he should. The Dodgers have been aggressive with their 2016 ninth rounder, and his strikeout rates have held up. However, opponents still tee off when they can square him up and his walk rates have risen starkly the last two seasons. Still, he has the potential to outperform his draft sot significantly and become a mid-rotation starter.
Mitchell White and Gerardo Carrillo are two more starters who fit a similar profile. They have the stuff to succeed, but have struggled to put it together for one reason or another. White’s command comes and goes as he sometimes loses his delivery but he gets swings and misses and has always eventually conquered each level. Carrillo’s stuff backs up at times but he has a simple delivery and is still pretty young.
The Dodgers have the pieces to make it happen
The players mentioned in this article are just a few of the many, many prospects that make Los Angeles one of the best pipelines in the game. Diego Cartaya, Ediwin Rios, Jordan Sheffield, Cristian Santana, and Marshall Kasowski are just a few of the others who could be included in a respectable package deal for Greene. There’s zero doubt that the Dodgers could meet just about any asking price Al Avila sets for his relief ace. The question comes down to whether they will be able to settle on a mutually agreeable exchange.