DETROIT – The MLB trade deadline is fast approaching, and the Detroit Tigers still have not made a deal involving Matt Boyd, Nicholas Castellanos or Shane Greene.
Other teams around the league have certainly been active, though. Most notably, the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres pulled off a three-team blockbuster that involved star pitcher Trevor Bauer, slugging outfielders Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes, and talented prospects Taylor Trammell and Logan Allen.
The trade is understandable for all three parties, but the Indians certainly appeared to restock. They gave up a year and a half of Bauer and got two quality MLB outfielders in Puig and Reyes while also adding three prospects, including Allen, who is ranked No. 98 in baseball.
With teams apparently balking at the Tigers' asking price for Boyd, general manager Al Avila might have to get creative to make a move before Wednesday's 4 p.m. deadline.
In honor of the Indians, Reds and Padres, let's dream up a three-team trade that moves all three of the Tigers' top trade chips.
In order to pull off a three-team trade, each team needs to feel like it is getting good straight up value for what it gives up. In other words, the Reds don't care as much about who the Indians and Padres are swapping between each other, as long as the Reds would trade the players they're giving up for the players they're receiving either way.
Cincinnati traded Puig, Trammell and prospect Scott Moss for Bauer. Whether it was a two-, three-, four- or 30-team trade, this was a move the Reds were willing to make.
Let's imagine a three-team deal involving the Tigers, Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs.
The Tigers are the only sellers of the three teams, looking to stock up on prospects and young MLB talent for the future.
Houston has been linked to Boyd and many other available starting pitchers on the market, as well as Greene.
The Cubs are one of the few teams linked to Castellanos, as they've had some offensive struggles and the outfield, consisting of Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Albert Almora Jr., is offensively challenged. Chicago has also been linked to Greene in its quest to upgrade in the bullpen.
To summarize, the Cubs need an outfield bat, the Astros need a starting pitcher, both teams need bullpen help and the Tigers want prospects.
Here's my proposed deal:
- Give: Matt Boyd, Nicholas Castellanos, Shane Greene, Buck Farmer
- Receive: Kyle Tucker, Derek Fisher, Brennen Davis, Aramis Ademan
- Give: Kyle Tucker, Derek Fisher
- Receive: Matt Boyd, Buck Farmer, Carl Edwards Jr.
- Give: Brennen Davis, Aramis Ademan, Carl Edwards Jr.
- Receive: Nicholas Castellanos, Shane Greene
Detroit Tigers perspective
The Tigers would certainly be giving up a lot in this trade, but the only pieces that would really be losses for the future are Boyd and Farmer.
Boyd is certainly the best player on the Tigers' roster, and with three years of control remaining, they shouldn't let him go without a massive return.
But at this point in the rebuild, the Tigers won't be able to take advantage of his three remaining years of team control. The earliest the Tigers could conceivably compete for a playoff spot is 2022, and that would be Boyd's final year under contract.
With every season they wait to trade Boyd, his value drops because of the diminishing years of cheap control. If all goes right with the rebuild, some of the Tigers' exciting pitching prospects -- such as Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo, Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser -- will be in the rotation by 2022 to cushion the loss of Boyd.
Farmer has been very good for the Tigers this year, striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings and sporting a 3.41 FIP. He's under team control until 2023, so this would be an underrated loss for the bullpen.
In return, the Tigers would get the No. 13 prospect in baseball, Kyle Tucker, who owns a .905 OPS with 21 doubles, 27 home runs and 23 stolen bases in Triple-A. He's only 22 years old and would be the centerpiece of the team's future offense.
Fisher would fulfill Avila's wish to get an "MLB ready" player in return for Boyd. He hasn't had much success at the MLB level, but he's got 10 home runs and nine stolen bases in 112 career games. There's no room for him in the Houston outfield, but the Tigers could make him an everyday corner outfielder and bat him in the heart of the order.
Brennen Davis and Aramis Ademan aren't nearly as highly ranked, but the Tigers aren't going to get a massive return for three months of Castellanos and a year and a half of Greene.
Davis was the Cubs' second-round pick last season and their No. 3 overall prospect. He's batting .298 in Single-A this season with 19 extra-base hits and a solid walk rate. He's only 19 years old and owns an .884 OPS.
Ademan is a 20-year-old lefty hitting shortstop who is struggling in High-A ball but shows some signs of having potential at the plate. He's drawn 41 walks in 87 games to go along with seven doubles, seven triples, five home runs and 13 stolen bases.
His calling card is defense, but Ademan is showing excellent plate discipline and some extra-base power. It's a bat the Tigers could take a chance on.
Overall, the Tigers would come away with two starting outfielders under team control until 2025 and two young hitting prospects with future potential. It would be a nice haul for Avila.
Houston Astros perspective
The Astros are definitely hesitant to trade Tucker, which is understandable given how valuable cheap, young assets are in baseball.
But if they could land Boyd for the next three and a half years, along with two relief pitchers under contract until 2023, they might change their tune.
Houston has a tendency of acquiring good pitchers and getting the absolute best out of them. Justin Verlander returned to Cy Young form almost immediately upon arriving in Houston, as did struggling Pirates starter Gerrit Cole. Charlie Morton's career was revived with the Astros last season, and the likes of Brad Peacock and Colin McHugh have flourished in Houston.
Boyd would be another candidate to improve in Houston, as he's just scratching the surface of his potential this year. With an elite strikeout rate and an understanding of how to make batters miss, he already embodies the philosophies the Astros preach.
Farmer would also have a chance to succeed in Houston. The Astros have a very good closer in Roberto Osuna and elite setup men in Will Harris and Ryan Pressly. The rest of the bullpen is shaky, though, and all three of their top arms have already appeared in at least 45 games.
Farmer was once a top prospect for the Tigers because he had good raw stuff. Though he couldn't cut it as a starter, he's found a home in the bullpen and would be a solid fourth option for the Astros.
Carl Edwards Jr. has long been a valuable member of the Cubs' bullpen, posting a career 3.12 FIP, 1.07 WHIP and 12.3 K/9 in 172 career games before this season.
The 2019 season was so rocky Edwards was demoted to Triple-A and has only appeared in one game since June 9. Chicago appears to have lost faith in him despite how reliable he was from 2015 through 2018.
Edwards is the type of player the Astros would acquire and get right just in time for him to dominate throughout the second half. After allowing six runs in the first four outings, Edwards posted a 2.03 ERA, a .093 batting average against and struck out 15 batters in 13.1 innings from May 6 to June 9.
Edwards really hasn't been bad this season, and he's been solid his whole career. The Astros could definitely use him to solidify their bullpen.
With an elite lineup featuring George Springer, Jose Alvue, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez, Josh Reddick, Yuli Gurriel and Robinson Chirinos, a starting rotation led by Verlander, Cole and Boyd, and a bullpen that could go five deep with the additions of Farmer and Edwards, the Astros would be locked and loaded for another World Series run.
Chicago Cubs perspective
The Cubs have obviously moved on from Edwards this season, demoting him last week after just one appearance following a call-up. The bigger question is whether Chicago would be willing to part with Davis and Ademan to get Castellanos and Greene.
The key here is Greene, the best relief pitcher on the market behind Felipe Vazquez, and his ability to be a setup man for new closer Craig Kimbrel.
Steve Cishek, Kyle Ryan and Brandon Kintzzler have all been really good in the late innings for Chicago, but Kimbrel, Brad Brach and Pedro Strop are struggling.
The Cubs have an aging starting rotation with 35-year-olds Jon Lester and Cole Hamels leading the way, and 32-year-old Yu Darvish coming around. Free agency is also approaching for star first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
The window for this core of players is still open, and the Cubs don't want to miss out on a chance to win another World Series because of bullpen woes. Greene should definitely be a priority and this asking price isn't too high.
Castellanos leads MLB with 37 doubles and has 11 home runs and a .790 OPS. His power numbers would be much better if he'd spent the first half of the season in Wrigley Field, so Castellanos would be the best bat in the Cubs outfield. He's also a defensive upgrade over Schwarber, if that's who he replaces in the field.
The Cubs would get to keep their top two prospects in this deal, as well as all their pitching prospects, which will be critical in the coming years.
Back to reality
While it's fun to dream of a perfect scenario like this, the reality is the Tigers sound less likely to move Boyd before the deadline, and fans might be underwhelmed by the return for Castellanos and Greene.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Tigers reach a deal with the Cubs, and that very well could involve Davis or Ademan. The more difficult prospect to acquire will be Tucker, who obviously costs much more.
This is an important day for the Tigers' rebuild, as the best organizations take advantage of every opportunity to inch closer to contention. It will feel like a big of a letdown if Boyd isn't moved after all the buzz of the last two months, but he will still have some value in the offseason and at the 2020 deadline.
If Avila can at least get some young hitting talent into the system by moving Castellanos and Greene, the deadline won't be a total loss.
The clock is ticking down, though, and Tigers fans who've had to watch bad baseball for the better part of two and a half years are anxious for a reason to get excited.