Here’s what the Detroit Tigers know regarding Jose Iglesias. He has brittle shins, apparently. A condition noted as shin splints that was also an issue last year has now been labeled as stress fractures (I’m not sure how different one is from the other but neither sounds good). He will see specialists in the coming days to determine the extent of the damage. And he will definitely be starting the MLB season on the disabled list. Anything beyond that is speculation. He might miss a month. He might be out until July or longer.
Let’s forget for a moment the snowball effect that resulted from Jhonny Peralta’s 50-game PED suspension late last year. The same ripple that sent Avisail Garcia to Chicago and brought Iglesias to Detroit. Funny how the Tigers’ two big dilemmas right now are left field and shortstop, isn’t it? Garcia is looking like a breakout star on the south side of Chicago and the Cardinals, a team who hardly ever misses, had so little concern over Peralta’s character that they gave him an unprecedented 4-year post-PED contract.
Where do the Tigers go from here? I took some heat after Andy Dirks’ injury came to light and I proclaimed that injuries have a way of being contagious on MLB rosters. One doesn’t cause the other, but look at last year’s New York Yankees, or Colorado Rockies, or San Diego Padres. It tends to happen with no offer of rational explanation.
Let’s hope the trend stops here. With or without Iglesias the Tigers’ still have the best 1-2-3 pitching punch in the game and notable star power across the batting order. They are still the team to beat in the AL Central but the margin has been thinned once again. This isn’t a panic-inducing announcement, but it’s a problem, and a pretty big one.
The only notable free agent shortstop on the market is Stephen Drew who played with the World Series champion Red Sox in 2013. He turned down his qualifying offer from Boston of 1-year, $14.1M. What this means is that if the Tigers do sign him, not only does he become a very expensive and temporary Band Aid but he will also cost the Tigers their 1st round draft pick this summer, which is #24 overall.
Aside from the fact that the Tigers have already declared their team-record $160M Opening Day payroll ‘maxed out’, and how damaging signing Drew (projected 1-year deal between $9-12M) would be to that number, Drew is no star on the field.
He’s a solid defender, but nowhere near the caliber of Iglesias. His defensive WAR in ’13 was 0.6. Believe it or not, Peralta’s was 0.7. So align your expectations accordingly if the Tigers go this route.
He’s an ok hitter. He batted .253 with 13 homers for the BoSox last year, striking out 124 times in 442 at-bats. To his credit, he did draw 54 walks.
And finally, he doesn’t seem to offer a whole lot to clubhouses around the league. Quite simply, I don’t like his demeanor. He would fill a need but he isn’t a player that I would fully welcome. But do the Tigers have a choice?
Sadly, that answer rests fully on how quickly Detroit can get Iglesias healthy, and that is a complete unknown. Brad Ausmus could probably get by with Hernan Perez or Eugenio Suarez at short for a month or so and arguably not lose much in the win-loss column. Beyond that the absence of Iglesias would become more obvious.
The last time GM Dave Dombrowski was met with similar unknowns (Peralta’s PED suspension and uncertain return) he immediately attacked the trade market to find Iglesias. It is rumored that two teams have already contacted the Tigers, trying to sell off their usable middle-infield parts.
If the Tigers keep this solution in house you can bet that it won’t be for long. If Iglesias’ return date gets pushed deep into the summer then Dombrowski will fill the vacancy, which would once again mean selling off some of his precious few minor league pieces.
Hold your breath Tigers fans. Any more news like this and the AL Central becomes a free for all.
To receive an email each time a new Tigers article is published, fill out the Email Notification Form
[Follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe]