Considering the 2020 season is only 60 games long, rental players won’t be worth as much ahead of Monday’s deadline. That will hurt the value of players set to be free agents this offseason.
On the other hand, the 16-team postseason should make more teams willing to make minor moves to improve their rosters. It doesn’t take much to make the playoffs this year, and 27 of the league’s 30 teams are currently at least within four games of a wildcard spot.
Tigers prospect breakdowns:
It’s a unique season and we don’t really know what the deadline will bring. Already we’ve seen a few small trades, such as the Red Sox acquiring Nick Pivetta from the Phillies for a pair of relief pitchers and the Blue Jays landing Daniel Vogelbach from the Mariners.
Al Avila has a handful of possible trade pieces. The question is whether he’ll find partners to get deals done.
Here’s a look at eight possible trades with eight different teams who could be interested in some of the Tigers’ assets.
NOTE: A player has to be on a team’s 60-man player pool to be traded. Some of these prospects would need to be added to a player pool to be eligible for a trade.
Trade: C Austin Romine and RP Jose Cisnero for OF Yonathan Daza and OF Daniel Montano
The Rockies jumped out to a surprising start this season, holding onto first place in the NL West for a couple of weeks. Then they lost 12 of 14 games, and now they find themselves clinging to the second-to-last wildcard spot.
Remember this offseason when star third baseman Nolan Arenado talked about how unhappy he was with the Rockies’ trajectory? If they want to hold onto him, the Rockies need to make the postseason, and right now, that looks like a coin flip.
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The catcher spot has been a disaster in 2020. Tony Wolters has a .512 OPS and a negative WAR -- terrible numbers in any situation, but especially for someone who gets to play his home games at Coors Field.
Austin Romine has been solid for the Tigers this season and would cost next to nothing as a 25-game rental.
Jose Cisnero would bolster a Rockies bullpen that frankly doesn’t miss enough bats. Strikeouts are particularly important for Colorado pitchers because any ball put in play at Coors Field is more likely to be a hit.
Though he’s 31 years old, Cisnero is under team control until 2024, which means he has value well beyond 2020. He’s been excellent for the Tigers this season, posting a 1.65 ERA, 2.18 FIP, 0.918 WHIP and more than a strikeout per inning while leading the team in appearances.
The Tigers would love to add Yonathan Daza and Daniel Montano to their outfield mix. Neither are considered top-tier prospects, but Daza deserves a chance to start in an MLB outfield right now, and Montano could provide some depth.
Daza has a career .318 average and .797 OPS in nine minor-league seasons, striking out just 378 times in 683 games. At Triple-A Albuquerque in 2019, he hit 30 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs while slashing .364/.404/.548 in 89 games.
Toronto Blue Jays
Trade: SP Matt Boyd for SS Orelvis Martinez and OF Griffin Conine
Last year at the trade deadline, Matt Boyd was perhaps the most coveted starting pitcher on the market, but the Tigers didn’t feel enough pressure to trade him because he was under team control for three more seasons.
Well, since then, Boyd has struggled for more than a calendar year and now has just two seasons of control remaining after 2020. His value has plummeted and Avila needs to decide if he wants to roll the dice on Boyd rebounding or cut his losses.
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Any interest remaining for Boyd would be a result of his 13% swinging strike rate and last year’s elite strikeout total.
The Blue Jays, who traded Boyd to Detroit for David Price in 2015, could desperately use a starting pitcher behind Hyun-Jin Ryu. Top prospect Nate Pearson is on the injured list and the duo of Tanner Roark and Matt Shoemaker leaves plenty to be desired. Chase Anderson is a gamble in any starting rotation.
Boyd very well could become Toronto’s No. 2 starting pitcher for the remainder of the season.
Orelvis Martinez would be the centerpiece of this return. He posted a .901 OPS in the Gulf Coast League last year as a 17-year-old and projects to hit for a high average with power. Martinez racked up 20 extra-base hits and 14 walks in 40 rookie ball games.
Griffin Conine is a power-first outfield prospect who hit 22 home runs and 19 doubles in 80 games for the Lansing Lugnuts last season. Strikeouts are a major issue, but his power is a standout skill, and the Tigers aren’t going to get any perfect prospects for Boyd.
San Diego Padres
Trade: RP Jose Cisnero and RP Buck Farmer for SS Gabriel Arias, OF Edward Olivares and INF Esteury Ruiz
The “Slam Diego” Padres are the trendiest team in baseball right now, with budding superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. leading the charge and a different player hitting a grand slam seemingly every single night.
Surprisingly, the bullpen has emerged as a weakness for the Padres after star relievers Kirby Yates and Drew Pomeranz hit the injured list. Craig Stammen and Emilio Pagan -- expected to be reliable late inning options -- have both been surprisingly inconsistent.
San Diego could use at least two, if not more, bullpen arms as it chases a home playoff series. They’re the top wildcard team right now and in position to host in the first round.
Cisnero and Buck Farmer have both been essentially automatic for the Tigers this season and are under team control for three and two more seasons, respectively. This would help the Padres bolster their bullpen for the rest of 2020 and beyond as they enter a window of World Series contention.
Cisnero’s dominance is well-documented, while Farmer has pitched scoreless innings in eight of 10 appearances. Since returning from injury, he’s struck out four batters in three innings while allowing just one run.
Gabriel Arias would be a great get for Avila. The 20-year-old shortstop racked up 144 hits in 120 games at High-A ball last season, including 17 home runs and 21 doubles.
Edward Olivares made his MLB debut this season after stealing 76 bases and hitting 47 homers and 77 doubles over his last three minor-league seasons.
Esteury Ruiz is an elite speed prospect who swiped 49 bags in 2018 and 34 last season with decent extra-base power.
Chicago White Sox
Trade: 2B Jonathan Schoop for 1B Gavin Sheets
The White Sox saw firsthand what Jonathan Schoop can do during their four-game sweep of the Tigers last week. Schoop had six hits in the first three games, including a home run, and then went to Cleveland and went 4-5 with a double and a home run the very next night.
Schoop is a 25-game rental, so his price tag will be low. But he could absolutely help an aspiring playoff team like the White Sox. He’s played all but one game for the Tigers this season, batting .286 with an .833 OPS, seven home runs and three doubles.
Schoop has also been the team’s most consistent defensive infielder throughout the season, even after the injury to C.J. Cron.
The White Sox could use some insurance at second base as youngster Nick Madrigal is on the injured list and Danny Mendick is sporting a .705 OPS. The Chicago lineup is deadly, but adding Schoop to the mix would be another upgrade.
Gavin Sheets is the No. 11 prospect in the White Sox system, but there might not be a future for him in the organization after Andrew Vaughn gets promoted.
Sheets is a 24-year-old left-handed power hitter who can draw walks and doesn’t strike out at a high rate. He has a career .358 OBP in the minors thanks to just 214 strikeouts compared to 129 walks in 301 games.
Trade: 2B Jonathan Schoop and C Austin Romine for OF Corey Ray
The Brewers were expected to be a playoff team this season, but as of right now, they have a losing record and sit on the outside looking in.
Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura lead a host of offensive disappointments this season in Milwaukee. Both have been worse than replacement level players and are contributing to an abysmal offense.
The Brewers are giving regular at-bats to the likes of Eric Sogard, Omar Narvaez, Ben Gamel and Orlando Arcia. They have a combined WAR of -0.7. Add in Ryan Braun and Brock Holt and that combined WAR drops to -1.8.
In other words, the Brewers are playing a lot of really bad offensive players.
Schoop and Romine would both be short-term offensive upgrades for the Brewers at catcher and likely third base. The Tigers wouldn’t get much in return, though, because both are free agents at the end of the season.
Corey Ray would be aiming high for Avila, as he’s the No. 11 prospect in the weak Brewers farm system. He’s held back by a monumental strikeout rate -- 496 strikeouts in 376 career games -- but the Tigers could take a chance on his 55-grade power tool.
In 2018, Ray hit 32 doubles, seven triples and 27 home runs in 135 games at Double-A. He struck out in one-third of his at-bats, but that power is exciting.
St. Louis Cardinals
Trade: RP Daniel Norris and RP Buck Farmer for OF Jhon Torres
The trade buzz surrounding Daniel Norris isn’t as loud as that of Cisnero or Farmer, but he might be the most interesting of the three to teams that need multiple bullpen pieces, like the Cardinals.
Norris is coming off a quietly strong 2019 and is throwing even harder so far in 2020. He’s excelled in his multi-inning role out of the bullpen and could help as either a reliever or an opener if he’s moved at the deadline.
He owns a 2.16 FIP and 1.00 WHIP in 13 innings this season, while striking out 11.
The Cardinals are reeling from the losses of Jordan Hicks, Ryan Helsley and Carlos Martinez from last year’s bullpen. Andrew Miller and Tyler Webb have both been shaky in prominent roles.
Avila can afford to ask St. Louis for a prospect with some upside, as Norris is under team control through next season and Farmer for two more seasons.
Jhon Torres is a 20-year-old outfielder with plus extra-base power and an elite eye at the plate. He’s drawn 73 walks while striking out just 143 times in 152 career minor-league games. He also has 28 doubles and 19 home runs in that span.
Trade: OF JaCoby Jones and RP Jose Cisnero for SS Nick Maton and OF Mickey Moniak
The Phillies aren’t hiding the fact that they’re all-in on winning this season. Not only have they called up top prospects Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard, they also traded Pivetta for bullpen help and signed Zach Wheeler this offseason.
J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius and Jay Bruce are all free agents after 2020, so it’s easy to see why the Phillies feel a sense of urgency. It shouldn’t be much of a challenge for them to make the 16-team postseason, but with almost half the season in the books, they’re in 10th place in the National League.
Other than Bryce Harper, the Philadelphia outfield has been extremely unproductive. Andrew McCutchen and Roman Quinn have OPSs south of .700, and McCutchen has a -0.6 WAR. Scott Kingery, who fills in in the outfield, has a .312 OPS and -1.5 WAR.
JaCoby Jones isn’t a player the Tigers are motivated to trade, but he would be a nice addition for the Phillies. He’s sporting an .864 OPS with five home runs, eight doubles and a .330 OBP. He’s a massive defensive upgrade over McCutchen and under team control for three more years.
Cisnero is on the same timeline and could very well be the best reliever on the Phillies’ roster.
Hardcore baseball fans might remember Mickey Moniak from the 2016 draft, when he was selected No. 1 overall. He’s fallen outside the Phillies’ top 10 prospects, but he still has speed and a decent hit tool at 22 years old, so it’s a lottery ticket worth buying.
Nick Maton is a young shortstop with advanced plate discipline in the minors, drawing 123 walks and striking out just 235 times in 286 games. His speed and on-base skills could catch the Tigers’ eye.
Trade: SP Matt Boyd, RP Daniel Norris and 2B Jonathan Schoop for SP Jackson Rutledge
What fun would this be without at least one mini-blockbuster?
The defending World Series champion Nationals have the third-worst record in the NL and fewer wins that the Tigers. But they’re only two games out of a wildcard spot.
Washington has two star building blocks in Juan Soto and Trea Turner, but beyond that, their window of contention isn’t exactly wide open. Max Scherzer is 35 years old and showing signs of slowing down. Stephen Strasburg is 31 and once again on the injured list. Some of the players who sparked their unlikely 2019 playoff run -- Howie Kendrick, Sean Doolittle, Asdrubal Cabrera, Ryan Zimmermann and Kurt Suzuki -- are free agents after this season.
The farm system isn’t exactly stocked with elite MLB talent, either. Washington is a team that should be looking to make a couple of moves this week.
Matt Boyd could be a somewhat inexpensive option to replace Strasburg for the rest of 2020 and then slot in behind the Nationals’ big three for 2021 and 2022. Even considering his flaws, Boyd would be a strong No. 4 starter for a team that essentially has three aces.
Norris wouldn’t just be much-needed bullpen help. He could also fill a piggyback role with young starters Austin Voth and Eric Fedde, who have made eight starts combined and made it through 5.1 innings just once.
Schoop is a classic Nationals midseason pickup to provide a spark for the offense. Whether he’s insurance behind rookie Luis Garcia, sharing time with Cabrera at third base or seeing time at designated hitter, Schoop would be a strong addition.
His 0.7 WAR is better than Cabrera (0.3), Garcia (-0.1) and Kendrick (-0.2) combined this season.
Rutledge is by far the most highly regarded prospect on this list. He’s No. 3 on Washington’s top 30 after they drafted him in the middle of the first round last season.
Though he’s not among MLB’s top 100 prospects, Rutledge can flirt with 100 mph on his fastball and compliments it with an above-average slider. He struck out 39 batters in 37.1 innings across three minor-league levels last season while posting a 3.13 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .169 opponents’ batting average.
The Tigers have a greater need for young hitters than pitchers, but Rutledge would be a valuable addition to the farm system, and the Nationals don’t have many high-end offensive prospects.