As the Detroit Tigers prepare to embark upon their 2013 season, with a team that is pretty well set in stone from a roster standpoint, it is interesting to hear all of the rumored deals the Tigers may still be a part of.
The names that simply won’t stop churning in the rumor mill are Brennan Boesch, Rick Porcello, and Jhonny Peralta. Rumored areas of interest that the Tigers may be checking into include a new shortstop, a left-hander in the pen, Anibal Sanchez, and a closer.
One thing that became clear after James Shields landed in Kansas City is that one never really knows what GM Dave Dombrowski is up to. He operates very quietly. To hear after the fact that Detroit offered a package including Avisail Garcia to Tampa for Shields came out of nowhere.
So as the winter months press on we are left to try and read between the lines, to decipher what is a legitimate rumor and what amounts to nothing more than a national writer speculating just for the fun of it, which seems to happen far too often.
Here are my thoughts on which rumors are real and the notions that we should simply discard.
Brennan Boesch getting traded: Detroit has been in talks with the Seattle Mariners, one of Dombrowski’s common trading partners, to move Boesch for what would likely be a left-handed reliever. Such a move could kill two birds with one stone.
Seattle does have 3 lefties in their pen that could be serviceable: Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, and former Tiger Charlie Furbush.
My take: Detroit feels like they need a 2nd lefty in the pen aside from Phil Coke, and they do. But with Duane Below, Darin Downs, and Kyle Lobstein in the mix, is it really necessary to move a guy like Boesch who still has upside as a power/average combo bat for a potential lefty arm? I say no.
Jhonny Peralta getting traded: Dombrowski is saying all of the right things about how Peralta is the Tigers’ shortstop, which is true, for now. The fact remains that Stephen Drew is still out there and the Tigers seem to want him. The Tigers can’t trade Peralta though, unless they’re certain that they can sign Drew.
My take: Drew is an upgrade over Peralta defensively, but not a massive one. His range is better but fewer shortstops have hands as sure as Jhonny’s. When he gets to it, he just doesn’t make mistakes. Remember also that Peralta is only one year removed from a .299, 21-homer, 86-RBI season. All of those numbers are better than any such stat put up by Drew in a full season. Peralta definitely struggled with the stick in 2012 but a bounce back season at age 31 isn’t too farfetched. I think the Tigers are committed to upgrading their defense up the middle so I still think Peralta gets moved. Just don’t expect Drew to translate into too many more wins.
Rick Porcello leaving and Anibal Sanchez staying: The two are permanently linked at the moment. If Detroit could retain Sanchez, then Porcello would make excellent trade bait. But that retention of Sanchez is a big if.
The Tigers have offered him a deal that he has rejected. Detroit wants him at around 4 years and $60M or less. Sanchez seems to think he can get 6-7 years and around $90M. For a guy who is 48-51 over his career with a 3.75 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, that seems a bit lofty. Anibal is definitely trying to parlay his outstanding postseason into huge dollars, and he may get it. If he does, it won’t be from Detroit, and Porcello will stay put.
My take: I saw one rumor on Porcello that linked him in a potential trade to Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. I would sincerely hope the Tigers aren’t that foolish. Porcello turns just 24 in a few weeks and still has the ability to improve. To move him for a 31-year old reliever seems silly. Regardless, I foresee another team overpaying for Sanchez and Porcello staying put.
Adding a closer: This has been one of the hotter debates. National media sources continue to link Detroit to every available closer, from Rafael Soriano on down the list. Yet GM Dave Dombrowski steadfastly indicates that Bruce Rondon will get first crack at being the closer. Can we trust that assessment?
My take: It’s not worth the money it would cost to grab a closer when Rondon most likely can get the job done. If he fails and Benoit and company can’t get it done, then a closer would make for a better timed acquisition at the trade deadline. The Tigers already have a decent chunk of change tied up in their bullpen. They’d be wise to roll with what they already have.
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