By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
This Thursday’s topic is appropriate and timely. With the All-Star Break behind us, we can’t help but wonder what the team’s approach will be at the trade deadline.
So we will address a loyal reader’s question.
Holly and Kurt did not share their answers and both can’t wait to see what the other has to say. Hopefully you will feel the same way.
Here is the question from Nick M.:
“Some writers have been calling for the Tigers to buy, add payroll, and do it now. The Tigers payroll is already over $200 million and I think foolish, given the current make up of this team.”
What do you think Al Avila will do before the August 1st trade deadline?
With 12 more days until the trade deadline, I think Al Avila will wait until the very last moment possible before deciding what to do. The Tigers are in a heavily grey area – technically within reach but not performing in ways that breed much confidence for any measurable success in the post-season.
The 4 series leading up to the deadline will be the key. Two bottom-dwellers and 2 top teams. It’s clear that the Tigers need to sweep the former (now impossible with the Twins) and take 2 out of 3 with each of the latter. If they can’t do that, I don’t see Al going all in, unless Mr. I steps in and insists.
But to expect the Tigers to go over the current $200 million (currently $203 million) payroll, when they have multiple significant needs, is unrealistic. They rank 4th in payroll just barely out of third place, to the 3 biggest major markets in the country and they have the second largest future payroll commitments behind the Dodgers at over half a billion dollars.
To trade for just one starting pitcher this year, they will have to pay through the nose given the seller’s market. However, they don’t have the human capital anymore to make it happen. Former GMs have said that if the Tigers want to make a deal for a solid player, they will have to give up someone significant. More than once, it was mentioned that a Maybin, Iggy or even JD may be the price it would require to land a starting pitcher. Maybe even one or more of the top youngsters – Boyd, Machado, Jimenez, Norris, etc.
But the team is appearing more and more like Swiss cheese with its holes – starting pitching, bullpen and now, offense. One trade isn’t gonna do it or make a significant difference.
They still need at least one more starter given the Sanchez/Pelfrey question marks and the plan to shut down Fulmer later this season. The bullpen is still somewhat unreliable and several of the top hitters have gone into serious slumps and cannot produce when needed the most.
Avila didn’t trade away the youngsters over the winter and I don’t believe he will do it now. If anything, he’ll make a sleeper trade like the ones that involved Max and Fister but none of the big names floating out there currently.
Then again, it’s always up to Mr. I and let’s hope he doesn’t want to put all his eggs into a basket that is showing signs of fraying.
Over the course of almost 4 months we have watched the Tigers meander through the up’s and down’s, so much in fact, it’s a wonder we aren’t all sea sick.
So many times, good pitching has not been supported by good hitting. So many times, it has been the opposite where the Tigers scored runs but their pitchers couldn’t keep them in the game. It’s been a frustrating swirl that has really messed with our emotions as we try to figure out if the team is progressing or regressing. Well, quite frankly, the team has done both; over and over and over again.
Key injuries once again have hurt their progress, losing one of their best starters and one of their best hitters at the same time. But, for a fair amount of time, we did have Zimmermann and JD Martinez available to us, but unfortunately despite their successes on the mound and at the plate, the team continued to be streaky.
Just this week, we were encouraged as the Tigers emerged from the All-Star break by taking 2 of 3 from KC, but followed it up by losing 2 of 3 to the lowly Twins, a series where they pitched well, but only scored a total of 4 runs. It’s mind boggling, but it’s clear what needs to be done at the end of July.
The return of Jordan Zimmermann should be viewed as a pitching acquisition, one that will help win games down the stretch. The return of Daniel Norris should be viewed the same way.
But don’t expect some blockbuster buying spree. There may be moves, but nothing like we witnessed last season at this time. We are at a different time and a different place. The pieces we acquired for our pitching staff are very good and incredibly have shown their potential already.
These are players to be excited about. They are pieces for the future, just not the near future (outside of Michael Fulmer, of course).
I expect Al Avila to make moves with the roster, but they will be smart, sound and responsible moves for next year and beyond. Sorry to deliver the news. But the next time the Tigers go for it, I want to feel like we are close, and who can honestly feel that way this season?