Selling Won’t Completely Devastate Tigers 2015 Season
It's been talked to death, so much so that I'm feeling queasy writing these words you're about to read, but with only three days left until the MLB Trade Deadline, it's time to
sell look towards the future.
Once the final out is made between the Rays and Tigers tonight in Tampa Bay, this is when you have to start trading. Not only to re-tool for next season, but also breathe some new life into the 2015 edition of the team and see if that can't help.
According to Sportrac, the Tigers have six impending free agents. David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, Joakim Soria, Alfredo Simon, Alex Avila, and Rajai Davis in order of money made in 2015.
In terms of how prized these free agents are let's look at them in the scope of tiers.
Tier 3 is your low end trade bait. Alex Avila and Alfredo Simon sit here, they'll get traded if they're in a package with any of the tier 2 or tier 1 players. Avila is expendable as McCann and Holaday have proven a decent tandem, and Alfredo Simon could go as part of a pitching overhaul in the starting rotation looking ahead to 2016.
Tier 2 we find Rajai Davis and Joakim Soria. Davis is 34 years old but has the legs of a 24-year-old if you didn't know any better. His speed and defensive ability (career .986 fielder) should have some value for a decent prospect or a bit player now who would be ready for a role in 2016.
I personally would be hard pressed to trade Soria, he's been a serviceable closer with 22 saves in 25 opportunities and even though he's on the wrong side of 30, he can be a veteran mentor in the bullpen as the likes of Rondon and Albuquerque find their grooves heading into next year.
Tier 1 is the top tier and it's got the names that everyone has been talking about, Price and Cespedes. These two should be traded by July 31st.
For Price as soon as he is off the mound in Tampa the market should open on him. He won't be able to pitch for the Tigers again before the deadline, and as a left-handed, all-star, Cy Young winning pitcher who is only 29, he'll get paid. For the Tigers though, if you can't pay him, and Price's agent isn't optimistic they will, then a trade haul is better than one draft pick they'll get for competitive balance.
Put it this way, if Johnny Cueto who wasn't an all-star and is a right handed hurler can fetch three left handed pitchers, and Troy Tulowitzki who needed an injury to be an all-star this year can fetch Jose Reyes, a Major League shortstop and a couple of pitching prospects, and both were across leagues, then the Tigers should be able to reasonably ask for up to five players, two of which can be ready for the MLB as early as tomorrow in exchange for Price, inside the American League.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports the Tigers are not against offering up a two day window to allow teams to negotiate a contract extension with Price on their terms. We have three days before deadline day, the script writes itself.
If a team is allowed to negotiate and is able to sign Price to let's say a five year deal. That only stands to increase what the Tigers can ask. Thought five players was crazy? How about seven, with Avila or Davis thrown in for good measure?
As for Cespedes, he has been quoted as saying he'd like to return to Detroit even if he is dealt by July 31. If he can be moved even with this information out there, he could fetch two or three prospects from the right buyers looking for power from the outfield. Then in the offseason the Tigers go to work wooing him back in free agency.
In terms of what prospects or players the Tigers should look for in this market, first and foremost, starting pitching. From the Morosi piece the Tigers want at least one MLB ready starting pitcher for 2016 out of the David Price deal. With only Verlander and Sanchez as projected starters for next year the overhaul is coming (Shane Greene was recently moved to the bullpen).
There is also nothing saying that any pitchers Price or Cepsedes could fetch would be ready to go in this season, their minor league competition in Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan haven't exactly been dominant and there will be starts near the back end available.
It wouldn't hurt to also grab some more bullpen arms in this auctioning process. The Tigers still haven't recovered in terms of fatigue from dropping Chamberlain and Gorzelanny from the pen and at this point, the more arms the better. Someone will eventually rise and show themselves as a good bullpen thrower and serve to be a big part in 2016. It may not have happened before but with new faces comes new competition.
And then since we're loading up the minors, we might as well grab a position player, probably an outfielder or right side infielder, just to shore up depth and take a calculated gamble on some other team's prospect panning out for Detroit.
All in all, if a Price deal can fetch six players, Cepsedes two and maybe Davis one, that's nine players coming in to Detroit for two leaving. That's if Detroit is able to woo Cespedes back to Comerica Park. If you can get three starters, four bullpen and two positional or utility players and five or six of them are some combination of MLB ready/AA-AAA projected for 2016, the Tigers will be fine.
It's not like they can do anything worse than their current run of 20-31 over the past two months. Some new faces should spark this team that's only four and a half games out of the wild card race, it's not impossible even without Price and Cespedes.