Detroit Tigers rumors: Domonic Brown edition

Before the Detroit Tigers made two big offseason trades and a free agent signing for a closer, I had suggested the possibility of a trade for Phillies left-fielder Domonic Brown.

As the winter meetings have kicked off in Orlando this week so has the news that the 26-year old Brown is indeed on the market. One problem: the trade proposal that I set forth back then involved Doug Fister as the centerpiece along with a few choice prospects. It seems that trading Fister might be difficult now that he calls Washington D.C. his home.

The match was perfect. The Phillies had already signed Marlon Byrd and could play him along with Darin Ruf and Ben Revere in their outfield. They also have a big need for starting pitching, hence the Fister involvement.

Domonic Brown, Detroit Tigers

Domonic Brown

The Tigers clearly require a left fielder and preferably one who hits with power and swats from the left side. Enter Brown and the 27 bombs he hit in his first full season in the big leagues a year ago. What’s more is that Brown has solid lefty-right splits for a young player as he hit .252 against southpaws.

Guess what high-end free agent can’t say the same? Shin-Soo Choo, despite all of his glorious stats, hit but .215 v. lefties last year with a dreadful .265 slugging %. Brown slugged at a .429 clip against lefties. Choo figures to get north of $20M/season for at least five years from whoever takes the bait this offseason. Domonic Brown will make $500K, or the league minimum, in 2014 before entering three consecutive years of arbitration.

Did GM Dave Dombrowski strike too soon on the Fister trade? Couldn’t he have pulled that trigger at any point this offseason? It’s not as if teams were dying to requisition the services of Steve Lombardozzi, a lefty specialist, and a prospect. It’s like a basketball player taking a contested three pointer early in the shot clock. You can get that shot anytime you want it. And likewise, I think Dombrowski might’ve been wise to let the market play out a bit longer before dealing quite possibly his most valuable chip in Fister.

Detroit clearly has no remaining major league ready starter that they can move at this point. Drew Smyly moves into the rotation and Rick Porcello will be called upon to start 32 games for Brad Ausmus next year.

Are the Tigers out of the Brown bidding then?

It would certainly take some creativity from Dombrowski to loop the Phillies into a deal. The rare but often times effective 3-team deal (think Max Scherzer trade) could be an option. But if not, the Tigers would have to offer the Phillies a package almost exclusively filled with prospects.

The obvious dilemma here is that the Tigers’ minor league system is already weak and moving two or three of their better bets to one day crack the lineup would only further deplete the system.

But, for the sake of making an offer, here’s what the Tigers could do. Bring in Brown and the Tigers could send Andy Dirks over as outfield insurance in Philly. That’s a start.

Other tradable pieces include catcher James McCann, one of two highly regarded 2nd baseman in Hernan Perez or Devon Travis to eventually take over for the aging Chase Utley, and perhaps a high-ceiling pitcher like 2012 4th rounder Drew VerHagen who is a 6-foot-6 righty that topped out at AA Erie in 2013 while posting a 2.90 ERA in 127.1 innings.

These prospects plus Dirks could provide a solid framework for a trade involving Brown.

The point here is that the Tigers might not want to spend on a guy like the 32-year old Choo for the next 5-6 years, and it’s hard to blame them. But left field remains a problem, as does the overall lineup, which currently looks something like this:

  1. Jackson – CF
  2. Kinsler – 2B
  3. Cabrera – 1B
  4. Martinez – DH
  5. Hunter – RF
  6. Avila – C
  7. Castellanos – 3B
  8. Dirks – LF
  9. Iglesias – SS

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That is a unit that will strike fear into absolutely no opposing pitcher. More run-producing power is needed. More home runs have to enter this lineup. Beyond Miguel Cabrera your next best thumper is probably Torii Hunter and the 15-17 dingers he might hit next year.

My overall sense is that the Tigers are currently weaker as a 25-man roster than they were at the end of October. Something has to give and that starts in left field.

Instead of asking: what-Choo got? How about: what can Brown do for you?

Related Article: Tigers sign Rajai Davis

[Related Article: Detroit Lions must end Jim Schwartz era]

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  • Brendt Frederick

    Well done joe… now just get into DD’s ear!

    • Joe White

      Thanks Brendt. I seem to have misplaced his phone #…..

    • Nick Charters

      Dave D is one of, if not the best, GM in MLB. Don’t forgot how horrible the Tigers were before him and what he was able to do in a real short time.

  • BobWhite

    Ever thought about taking over for DD.

    • Joe White

      Hey, if he leaves for the commissioner’s office after next year, I’m sure asst. GM Al Avila wouldn’t mind if I slid in ahead of him.

  • Keith Richards

    If you think Jackson is batting 1st, you’re mistaken. Kinsler will be leading off.

    • Joe White

      I agree that it’s unlikely Jackson bats first this year but with the current roster I’m not sure where else he hits. If not 2nd, then where? If he bats lower then who bats 2nd if Hunter doesn’t, or 5th if Hunter doesn’t? It’s not pretty. And keep in mind that Kinsler’s on-base skills are barely better than Jackson’s. Neither one is an ideal leadoff guy. If no other changes and you bat Hunter 2nd then that bottom 5 is a mess.

  • Nick Charters

    I agree they need to add a left fielder who can hit but saying this lineup will not strike fear into any opposing pitcher is a bit of an overstatement. Are they worse offensively than last year? Yea, but they have guys who can get on base and are threats to steal, which is something they have not had the last few years. Power guys do not fair well playing for the Tigers. Guys have had their career best years for average in a Tigers uniform so putting together guys who can just get on base can be a productive offense.

    • Joe White

      I don’t think it’s an overstatement at all. With Jackson and Iglesias you have a LOT of outs. Same could be true for Avila, Dirks and Castellanos. And don’t buy Kinsler as a speed guy. I think he was like 15 of 26 last year stealing bases. Terrible. This team needs some home runs.

      • Nick Charters

        You act like the Tigers offense is going to be atrocious next year. Hitting home runs does not automatically make you a great team. Seattle, Baltimore, Toronto and the Cubs all ranked in the top 10 for home runs hit. Conversely, Detroit, Boston and St. Louis lead MLB in runs scored, neither were in the top 5 in home runs hit but ranked 1st, 2nd and 4th in batting average. Jackson and Avila had or were close to their career worst years last year and Victor spent the first 1/3 of the season getting his swing back after major surgery. The threat of a home run might not be as prevalent as it was last year but if the opposing pitcher is afraid of giving up runs then they should be afraid of this offense.

        • Joe White

          I think the offense has the potential to go either way next year and would like to see them take some measures to tighten it up. Homers aren’t everything but they’re nice to have around. One more power bat and I’d feel much better about it.

  • Vince in MN

    I was taken aback by the Fister deal, which seemed rushed to me; to get the Nathan signing done, I guess, but the return was meager in my estimation and didn’t address any serious ’14 concerns. I like the Brown idea, but good luck getting that done now with the paucity of material we have to offer. However, to remain optimistic of the prospect, what do you think of including a veteran, oh say Phil Coke, in the package. Could that make it more palatable to Philly?

    • Joe White

      Hey Vince. I don’t think adding Phil Coke to any package would help. His big thing before last year was not being able to get righties out. Last year he couldn’t get lefties out either. My hope is he’s cut before Opening Day.
      And agreed, Brown is probably a long shot at this point as Philly would probably prefer a major league ready pitcher in any package.

  • Tiger Fan in Detroit

    It seems to be shaping up as though DD is restructuring toward more of a small ball team and backing off on the big bang theory. But like you I’d feel more comfortable with Brown on the roster. I think Choo would be a wee bit expensive if they want to to keep Scherzer and Miggy.

  • Brendt Frederick

    Rajai Davis… doubtful on Brown now. ….DD can’t be done though right. …RIGHT!!

    • Joe White

      Yep. Should be interesting. Huge transition.

  • Walking Thunder

    Why would the phillies accept that package? Your 8&9 best prospects for a young controllable allstar

    • Joe White

      They probably wouldn’t. And it doesn’t matter now with the Davis signing.