The Detroit Tigers made a big pre-deadline trade as expected. Bringing in Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez shored up two of the team’s biggest needs, another capable starting pitcher and a solid 2nd baseman.
The only apparent need still on GM Dave Dombrowski’s wish list is a right-handed hitting outfielder, preferably one with some pop and defensive acumen. Carlos Quentin re-upped with the Padres last week so his name has been crossed off the list. Josh Willingham is another hot name being bounced around but the Tigers are not in on those rumors.
Dombrowski seems intent on adding someone, but there just isn’t much left that won’t cost a payout the Tigers aren’t willing to give. 35-year old Reed Johnson of the Chicago Cubs is one name that has been mentioned in the last few days.
Johnson hits right handed and is batting .329 against lefty starters, which is the void the Tigers are trying to fill. Overall, Johnson is hitting .305 with 3 homers, 15 RBI’s, and a solid .356 on-base %. If Ryan Raburn could have ever climbed out his black hole this wouldn’t be an issue, but the Tigers appear to have finally moved on from any idea of Raburn righting the ship.
Adding another outfielder like Johnson would create a logjam in the outfield. Quintin Berry, Austin Jackson, and Brennan Boesch have been getting most of the starts lately. Delmon Young can play left but he’ll be the DH virtually every day going forward. The other factors are Andy Dirks and Don Kelly.
Dirks is rehabbing in the minors right now and should be ready sometime next week. Kelly is a deep reserve and not really of any consequence at this point.
If Johnson joins the fray via trade, a 5-man rotating outfield might just be what we see the rest of the way.
If any of the current lefties were having great success against left-handed pitching this might not be necessary, but this simply hasn’t been the case.
Dirks only has 24 at-bats all year against southpaws and is hitting just .208 in those situations. Boesch, often hailed for his ability to hit lefties, has managed just a .258 average in 2012 against them with 1 homer. Berry has mustered up just a .224 clip in 49 at-bats v. lefties. So the void is real and should be filled if the price is cheap enough.
Reed Johnson is the current name but as we know with Dombrowski, he likes to maneuver in the background and pick up his guys at his price. Johnson or not, it will be a similar-style player that gets added. Anyone who can hit lefties with consistency, play a good outfield (which Johnson certainly can), and doesn’t require a prospect haul that scares the Tigers away is fair game.
Bottom line, expect one more deal to be made by the Tigers before midnight on Tuesday.