Justin Verlander

Tackling the trade deadline: Detroit Tigers


Over the next few days, I’m going to look at the needs of some contenders as we approach the July 31 trade deadline.

Detroit Tigers
First-half record: 49-43
Standings: Leading Indians by 1/2 game, White Sox by 5 games in AL Central


Starting pitcher: Cy Young contender Justin Verlander is the only Tigers starter with an ERA under 4.50, and the team recently sent Phil Coke back to the bullpen.  Coke’s replacement, Charlie Furbush, has responded by giving up 12 runs — seven earned — in 7 1/3 innings while losing both of his starts.  Since Rick Porcello is a tough guy to rely on and Brad Penny is a big-time injury risk, the Tigers need to add someone who can start Game 2 or 3 of a postseason series.

Second base: The Tigers have Ryan Raburn for pop, Ramon Santiago for defense and Danny Worth for… well, I’m not sure what he’s for… but they’ve been hurting for an everyday second baseman for a couple of years now.  The plan is for Carlos Guillen to see time at the position if he can make it back from knee surgery, but he’s a terrible bet to stay healthy while playing second base.  The Tigers should go get a real second baseman and see if Guillen can contribute as an alternative to Brandon Inge at third.

Outfield: I don’t see a real need here, largely because I’m a believer in rookie Andy Dirks.  Still, there have been whispers that the Tigers will try to acquire an outfielder to help pick up some slack if they don’t think they can count on Magglio Ordonez.  Ordonez has hit .284 since coming off the DL last month, but it’s come with just four extra-base hits in 67 at-bats and he’s turned into quite a liability defensively because of his leg problems.


Wandy Rodriguez (LHP Astros): Owed $10 million next year, $13 million in 2013, Rodriguez comes with plenty of risk.  That’s especially the case because his $13 million option for 2014 turns into a player option in the event of a trade.  Still, it’d be a gamble worth taking.  He’d certainly provide a different look from Verlander and Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation, and his excellent strikeout rate suggests that he’d hold up just fine in the AL.

Proposed deal

Rodriguez and 2B Jeff Keppinger for Porcello and LHP Casey Crosby

Astros fans wouldn’t be too happy with this one, but I think Porcello would have a bright future in the National League and come close to approximating Rodriguez’s success for the next three years.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen for him in Detroit.  The Tigers would have a better chance of making an October run with Rodriguez slotted into their rotation, and Keppinger would be an upgrade at second base.

The way I see it, either top prospect Jacob Turner or Porcello will have to go for the Tigers to land a big upgrade this summer and Porcello is likely the one they’d move first.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.