Even though the team has shown encouraging signs of improvement -- other than a 3-18 stretch from April 15 through May 7, Detroit is 24-21 on the season -- there’s no chance it will compete for a playoff spot. That means if there’s a move to be made for the future, the Tigers should make it.
The only problem: Who do the Tigers have to offer?
In previous seasons, the Tigers sold off assets such as David Price, Justin Verlander, Justin Upton, J.D. Martinez and Nicholas Castellanos. Obviously, they didn’t get much in return, but there were still clear pieces to dangle in front of opposing general managers.
Well, the Tigers might have lost their best trade piece during Monday’s blowout win at Kansas City.
Matt Boyd injury
Matt Boyd was seven outs into what was looking like another solid outing when he called out the trainer and hit the showers early. The team later announced Boyd has “left arm discomfort,” which is suboptimal for a left-handed pitcher.
Boyd has been a hotly debated player for years around this point in the season. Is he worthy of a legitimate prospect return? Should he be part of Detroit’s future?
But anyone who follows the league could see Boyd is, at the very least, a middle or back-end of the rotation starter who could help a playoff team.
Take the St. Louis Cardinals, for example. On May 29, St. Louis was 30-22 and sitting atop the National League Central Division. Since then, it has lost ace Jack Flaherty as well as serviceable starters in Miles Mikolas and Kwang Hyun Kim.
The Cardinals lost 11 of 13 games to drop below .500 and currently sit in fourth place in their division -- a full five games behind the Chicago Cubs after Monday night’s win against Miami. They can’t even afford to wait until July 31. They need help right now.
Even with Kim scheduled to return Tuesday, the Cardinals are trotting out a five-man starting rotation of Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez, John Gant, Johan Oviedo and Kim. That’s... well...
St. Louis doesn’t have a loaded farm system, and it isn’t likely to ship someone like Nolan Gorman out when the organization isn’t loaded with offensive potential, either. So Boyd seems like a good solution.
But only if he’s healthy.
The Cardinals are just one example. The Angels, Braves and Red Sox could be looking to add a back-end starter, as well. Even teams with seemingly stacked rotations will explore every chance to improve their depth.
Right now, the Tigers are keeping their fingers firmly crossed for good news on Boyd’s left arm, because without him, the deadline could be very dull.
Another name that might be tossed around is Schoop, who’s batting .333 with a 1.008 OPS over 31 games since May 11. He’s slugged eight home runs and eight doubles during that span, with 11 walks and 23 strikeouts.
There’s no question Schoop could help a contender, especially since he’s now added a little bit of defensive versatility to his arsenal. The problem is he’s a half-season rental, and those don’t yield big returns like they used to.
A team like the Milwaukee Brewers -- who started the season with Keston Hiura at first base and have moved on to Daniel Vogelbach in an everyday role -- might want to add some pop to their lineup. Milwaukee has the pitching to win a World Series, but its lineup is, well, let’s just go with “poor.”
What about the mighty San Diego Padres? That team is all-in this season, but the lineup has holes. Schoop could provide a right-handed compliment to the left-handed second base-first-base duo of Jake Cronenworth and Eric Hosmer.
The Tampa Bay Rays and New York Mets are two other contenders that love versatile players and lineup flexibility. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they checked in on Schoop as a cheap upgrade at the deadline.
Robbie Grossman -- trade or wait?
The Tigers have options with Grossman because he’s signed through next season, and they’d be more than happy to slot him into the leadoff spot for 2022.
But if the price is right, Al Avila shouldn’t worry too much about next season, which isn’t setting up for a happy ending, either.
Grossman, as always, owns an on-base percentage north of .350. He’s hit nine home runs, 11 doubles and stolen eight bases. In 63 games, Grossman has been on base 100 times -- 56 hits, 40 walks and four hit-by-pitches.
Pretty much every lineup -- maybe with the exceptions of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros -- could use an all-around player like Grossman. But really, the question is whether the Tigers want to move him for what’s likely to be a modest cost whether it’s this year or next.
Unfortunately, the Tigers’ bullpen hasn’t done the organization many favors in terms of trade value.
Michael Fulmer was flirting with 100 mph and looking like a dominant late-inning reliever for a few weeks, but he’s spent some time on the injured list since. He’s expected to return this week, but he’ll need to prove he’s back to that form to generate any real trade interest.
Gregory Soto has the most value, but he’s under team control until 2026, so the Tigers probably won’t be overly motivated to discuss him for a price teams are willing to pay. Kyle Funkhouser likely isn’t going anywhere, either.
Buck Farmer, Daniel Norris and Joe Jimenez have completely tanked their value. Bryan Garcia isn’t overly interesting.
That leaves Jose Cisnero.
It feels to me like Cisnero is the real dark horse trade candidate on this roster. He’s in the unique spot of already being 32 years old, yet remaining under team control until 2024. That makes him both expendable for the Tigers and valuable to other organizations.
Cisnero is striking out 11.6 batters per nine innings to back up his elite numbers from last season. He leads the Tigers with seven holds and has even stepped in as a closer, at times.
While his season-long numbers are solid, Cisnero has especially turned it on after a slow start. In his last 15 appearances -- dating back to May 13 -- he owns a 0.64 ERA, a .152 opponent batting average and .405 opponent OPS.
Batters are just 7-for-46 against Cisnero over that span, with one double, no home runs, four walks and 15 strikeouts.
A team with holes in the back-end of the bullpen -- we’re looking at you, Philly -- would love to add Cisnero, not only for the stretch run in 2021, but the following two seasons, as well.