5 dream scenarios for Detroit Tigers ahead of MLB trade deadline
Justin Verlander among several players on trade block for Tigers
DETROIT – It's pretty clear the Detroit Tigers need some help.
As losers in six of their last eight games and a season-worst 10 games below .500, the fourth-place Tigers have already packed it in for the 2017 season.
Unfortunately, there's not much help on the horizon -- at least, not yet.
Despite landing three starting pitchers on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list, the Tigers have one of the worst farm systems in MLB. The organization is particularly thin on everyday players.
That's where Al Avila is supposed to come in. The Tigers' general manager has less than a week to turn the team's usable assets into prospects before the non-waiver trade deadline. There are plenty of movable players on the roster, but it's unclear how much value they have in this buyer's market.
So far, only J.D. Martinez has been shipped out of Detroit, bringing back a trio of unheralded prospects. The return was so underwhelming, it dampened the spirits of fans who hoped to greatly speed up the rebuilding process.
For those Tigers fans who have watched the team fall in the standings and flounder on the trade market, here are five dream scenarios that would help the team in the future.
Justin Verlander to Dodgers for Alex Verdugo
You might remember Alex Verdugo's name from an article earlier in the month that broke down five potential trades the Tigers could make for Justin Verlander.
Despite a recent report that the Dodgers are no longer in on the Verlander talks, the potential match has never been stronger. The best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, was placed on the disabled list this week with a back injury and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Fellow starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy is also on the shelf, leaving the Dodgers' rotation a little thin.
Even with those injuries, the Dodgers' starting staff is strong at the top. Rich Hill is one of the best pitchers in the league when he's healthy, and in the month of July, he's allowed just four runs on 17 hits and three walks while striking out 37 batters in 25.1 innings.
Unfortunately for Hill, the disabled list has been tough to avoid throughout his career, and he's currently day-to-day with a respiratory ailment. At 37 years old, it's optimistic to believe he'll all of a sudden be able to stay healthy.
Take all of those factors into account, and the Dodgers could really use a starting pitcher, specifically one as durable and reliable as Verlander. The 34-year-old has been rolling since the end of May, allowing three or fewer earned runs in 10 of his last 11 starts, with only two bad starts mixed in.
Verlander is also the type of player who would thrive in a pennant race, and he has a long history of playoff dominance.
The dream scenario for the Tigers would be that Los Angeles becomes so desperate to add a starting pitcher that they make their No. 2 prospect, Alex Verdugo, available in a deal. The Tigers would probably have to pay some of Verlander's salary in the deal, but getting Verdugo in return would be well worth it.
Baseball's No. 28 overall prospect, Verdugo is hitting .328 with a .401 on-base percentage and .446 slugging percentage in Triple-A this season. The 21-year-old projects as a center fielder or right fielder, which are two major positions of need for the Tigers, especially down the road.
Verdugo hasn't hit with much power in the minors, but he has 20 doubles in 89 games and would add athleticism to an organization that has become older, slower and worse on defense. Many prospects who have been called up to MLB from the minors in recent years -- such as Francisco Lindor and Ian Happ -- watched their power numbers increase, so don't give up on Verdugo's power potential just yet.
Ian Kinsler to Brewers for Keston Hiura or Isan Diaz
Ian Kinsler is another name that has surfaced in Tigers trade rumors, and the Brewers have been the most common team linked to those talks.
Kinsler is the type of player who can help put a fringe playoff team over the top, and the Brewers are desperate to make a move quickly, with the Cubs catching fire.
At the All-Star Break, the Brewers held a four-game lead over the defending World Series champs, and they were one of the surprise teams of the first half. But in the last 10 games, the Brewers have gone 2-8 while the Cubs went 8-2, and now it's a half-game deficit facing the Brewers with two months left.
On the surface, Kinsler's batting numbers don't look as attractive this season. He's batting just .245 with nine home runs and seven stolen bases, but some of the underlying stats suggest he's in for a better stretch run.
Kinsler has never had a walk-to-strikeout ratio anywhere close to his current pace. Through 83 games, he's drawn almost as many walks (38) as strikeouts (43), leaving him with an OBP of .330. His slugging percentage is below .400, but he's just a year removed from hitting 28 homers, so a move to a hitter's park like Milwaukee would be a huge boost.
With Kinsler, the Brewers would add to an already deep core of middle infielders. Elite prospect Orlando Arcia is already with the club at shortstop, and despite his struggles, he's only 22 years old and the organization has high hopes for his future. Former Tiger Hernan Perez has also found a home in Milwaukee, and Jonathan Villar was a major breakout player in 2016.
If the Brewers added Kinsler to the mix, that could open up one of their top 100 prospects in a potential trade, specifically Keston Hiura or Isan Diaz.
The Brewers have a fairly deep farm system, with six players ranked in MLB Pipeline's top 100. Hiura and Diaz are the team's fifth- and sixth-ranked prospects, respectively, and No. 95 and No. 99 in the league.
Hiura has adjusted quickly to the low minors, batting .342 and slugging .773 between rookie and Single-A ball this season. He's only 20 years old, so he hasn't mastered the strike zone yet, but the Tigers would be getting a player with a high offensive ceiling who could land at second base or the outfield, which would be two positions of need.
If not Hiura, the Tigers could target Diaz, who's a year older and struggling in High-A ball. Diaz has struck out 105 times in 96 games this season, but he's got an exciting power profile with 11 home runs and 18 doubles to go with a .338 on-base percentage.
Could Kinsler bring back either of these prospects? Over the last five years, Kinsler has posted WARs of 5.0, 5.5, 6.0 and 6.1, making him by far the Tigers' most valuable all-around player in the three years since the Prince Fielder trade. Even this season, he's been a two-win player who could easily get hot at the top of the Brewers' order in the heat of a playoff race.
Villar has an OBP below .300 as the Brewers' most frequent leadoff hitter this season, and Eric Sogard is a utility player at best, so Kinsler would be a huge upgrade.
Justin Wilson and Verlander to the Yankees for Chance Adams and Tyler Wade
This one's a real long shot, but why make a dream scenario list without reaching for the sky?
Chance Adams has been one of the best pitchers in all of the minor leagues this season, striking out a batter per inning and allowing a .165 batting average in 14 starts at Triple-A. The 22-year-old right hander has a 0.96 WHIP and has allowed 43 hits in 75.1 innings.
Would the Yankees part ways with Adams? Probably not, but Justin Wilson is the Tigers' most valuable trade chip, so they should be looking for a nice return. Wilson has another full year left on his contract, and his reunion in New York would add to an already loaded bullpen.
Meanwhile, Verlander would be a much-needed addition to the Yankees rotation after Michael Pineda was lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery. His fly ball tendencies wouldn't be a great fit for Yankee Stadium, but in a rotation that's fairly weak behind Luis Severino, the Yankees badly need a veteran arm (sorry, CC Sabathia).
The Tigers already have three right-handed starting pitchers among their top prospects in Matt Manning, Beau Burrows and recently drafted Alex Faedo, but there's no such thing as too much young pitching. Adams would join that trio as the most MLB-ready arm in the minors.
Wade, the Yankees' No. 7 prospect, is already in the big leagues and struggling mightily through 11 games. In the minors, however, he put up an .842 OPS and stole 26 bases. His excellent speed would be welcome for a Tigers organization void of athleticism, and since there's plenty of room in the Tigers' outfield, he would have time to grow with major-league at-bats.
Justin Wilson to Astros for Derek Fisher
The Houston Astros are in a unique situation in that they almost have too much young talent to go around. With stars such as Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and George Springer locking up position spots for the foreseeable future, there's not much playing time to go around for their slew of strong prospects.
One of those prospects is Derek Fisher (no, not that Derek Fisher). Fisher has already spent time in Houston this season, hitting two home runs in seven games. He's 23 years old and offers a valuable power-speed combination that's MLB-ready now.
The Astros have an elite offense and a deep starting rotation, especially when ace Dallas Keuchel returns from injury. Bullpen arms are the only missing piece. Wilson is the best relief pitcher on the market and has experience pitching in both a set-up and closer's role. For a team that plans to contend for a World Series each of the next two years, Wilson would be a perfect fit.
Fisher has dominated Triple-A all season, slugging 21 home runs and 26 doubles in 84 games. He's also stolen 16 bases and drawn 35 walks, leading to a .384 OBP and a .967 OPS.
Alex Avila to Rockies for Raimel Tapia or David Dahl
Alex Avila is the only player left on the Tigers' roster who absolutely needs to be traded before this year's deadline.
Avila is a rare and valuable combination of offense and defense at the catcher's position. During this breakout campaign, Avila ranks among the top 15 hitters in all of baseball in terms of average quality of contact. Avila's average exit velocity is 92.4 mph this season, meaning he's hitting the ball, on average, harder than stars like Freddie Freeman, J.D. Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper.
Due to Avila's enormous success this season, and the position scarcity at catcher, the Tigers could get great value in a trade with Colorado, even though he's a rental player.
The catcher position has been a nightmare for the Rockies this season. Tony Wolters, Ryan Hanigan, Dustin Garneau and prospect Tom Murphy have combined for a terrible .620 OPS this season, and only three home runs in 103 games. It takes a massive lack of power to hit just three home runs in more than 100 games when half of those are at Coors Field.
Avila has already hit 11 home runs this season, and his .879 OPS is on another planet from Wolters, who has caught 60 games this season.
The Rockies are in a tough spot, trying to stay in a wildcard spot without a hope of catching the Dodgers for a division title. The Diamondbacks and Rockies have dominated the wildcard race so far, but the Brewers and Cardinals are without striking range, especially if they make moves at the deadline.
Raimel Tapia is another player I profiled earlier in the month, as his athleticism could make a difference at the top of an MLB lineup in the future. During his first 40-game tryout, he's batting .314 with an .849 OPS and 11 extra-base hits.
Tapia could be available because of his defensive struggles in the outfield. So far, he's graded out way below average on defense, which could make the Rockies more willing to move him in the right trade.
Colorado has Charlie Blackmon, Ian Desmond, Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez in the outfield mix, so the Rockies can afford to move an outfielder.
David Dahl might be another player to ask about, even though he's spent the entire season on the disabled list. It's unclear if Dahl will return to Colorado this season and make an impact, so the Rockies could be willing to move him for a player who helps them win now.
Dahl came into this season as one of the most exciting prospects in the National League. He played 63 games in the big leagues last season and slugged .500, hitting seven home runs and 12 doubles.
The Tigers could use a left-handed bat, and Dahl is a good gap hitter, which would play well in spacious Comerica Park. If he was brought to Detroit, the 23-year-old would be a centerpiece in the future offense.
Copyright 2017 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.