According to a report by Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, Tigers relief pitchers Jose Cisnero and Chasen Shreve have been drawing interest from rival teams as the MLB Trade Deadline approaches. It’s not especially surprising to see either of these players being floated as trade candidates— they’re on expiring contracts and Detroit is expected to at least take calls on anyone who isn’t Riley Greene.
Cisnero has been with the Tigers since Al Avila picked him up as an unknown after spending several seasons out of affiliated ball. He quickly entrenched himself in the ‘pen and has become one of the longest tenured players on the team. He’s able to dial up the heat and his slider draws swings and misses, but when his control starts slipping, things get a bit hairy. He’s had more good years than bad with the club, but he’s in the midst of a slump at the moment. July has been unkind to him, and despite a 3.42 xFIP being fueled by a good strikeout to walk ratio, he’s getting hit pretty hard and the results have been ugly.
That being said, Cisnero hasn’t lost any fastball velocity and opposing batters’ chase rate against him is holding steady. Those are two major indicators of whether a pitcher his age has gone sour, and so far he passes the sniff test.
Shreve has bounced around the league for almost a decade now, providing adequate but unremarkable innings from the left side. After getting battered in New York last year, it wasn’t clear that he would even be a major league player this season. Instead, he won a job as an NRI in the Spring and has bounced back to his old, slightly better than replacement level self.
Unlike Cisnero, Shreve has reinforced his trade value in the month leading up to the deadline. He’s struck out a bunch of hitters without giving up too much hard contact. It’s not revolutionary stuff, but demonstrating that he is exactly who teams think he is constitutes the ideal stretch run for a minor trade target like a journeyman reliever. Teams are always looking for left-handed help this time of year.
Until beat reporters start naming names, it’s all but impossible to guess at who is calling about this pair of arms. You’d be hard pressed to find a team who thinks they’re playoff bound who would turn their nose up at affordable pitcher to buttress the bullpen. Neither Shreve nor Cisnero is going to make a huge splash on the market, but they’re poised to quietly help a contender get across the regular season finish line.
It’s tough to say exactly how they’re valued in a prospective trade. The market is shaping up to be a pricey one for quality starting pitchers, but the price tag on more middling acquisitions hasn’t exactly settled yet.
In a trade for either one of these players, I’d like to see Scott Harris target a project arm rather than a more advanced position player, as he has in previous trades. It’s not likely that anyone is going to return a player of much value for either of these guys. The current regime has shown they’re able to find players who can plug a hole for virtually nothing — McKinstry and Ibañez spring to mind — so there’s no reason to trade a real asset for a player who isn’t going to offer any long term value.
On the other hand, Gabe Ribas and his minor league pitching development staff are building quite a tidy résumé. Trading a reliever at the deadline is the perfect opposite to get in on the ground floor of a young pitcher who scouts believe will pop in the Tigers’ system.
As the deadline gets closer, we’ll keep you up to date on the latest news and rumors, along with deeper analysis of the actual transactions when they occur. Until then, what would you like to see happen in a trade including Cisnero or Shreve? Let us know in the comments!