Detroit Tigers’ Austin Meadows trade, necessary when it happened

Leadoff: The Austin Meadows trade was necessary when it happened. It was a necessary deal at the time and the verdict is still out on it.

It was a necessary deal at the time and the verdict is still out on it

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A.J. Reilly: In the leadoff this week, I wanted to talk about something I know is very near and dear to the Detroit Tigers fans’ hearts. And that’s the trade that we made before the season for Austin Meadows giving up Isaac Paredes. And we look back on that trade. Now, when we say, man, another mistake by Avila, but I want to tap the brakes on that.

And the reason why I want to tap the brakes on that is because too often we sit back and analyze moves post when they happened. As opposed to looking at them in the moment for the decision that was made and saying, you know what? That was a good deal because I, at the onset of this deal, this was a good deal at the beginning of the season.

This deal is precipitated by the fact that Riley Greene who is phenomenal, did not start the season with the Detroit Tigers because of his fractured foot. So now we have a hole in the outfield. So they make a trade with a player who does not play fantastically while in Detroit.

Hadn’t really forced his way into the lineup, but was younger. He’s only 23 years old. They take that player, who’s blocked by Jeimer Candelario also blocked by Jonathan Schoop at second base, and they flip him for an outfielder who had produced. I believe in 2019, he had 27 home runs. A year ago, just a good offensive left-handed bat that played pretty good defense in the outfield, a hole that we had, and on the surface level, that was a really good deal.

But now we get a continuous barrage of, people that look back and go, man. Can’t believe that they messed up that one again. Can’t believe they let Isaac Paredes go. But the question that I want to ask, and the question that I wanna talk about is with. Isaac Paredes has 13 home runs in the first half. 157 weighted runs created, which is 57% above the major league average.

One is sustainable. We’ve seen this before in Detroit Brennan Boesch comes to mind. Chris Shelton comes to mind of guys who have phenomenal first half. But then the league adjusts to them and they struggle in the second half. It’s possible. It’s possible that they struggle. That Isaac Paredes will struggle.

The other question that I wanna look at is this. Did Tampa Bay unlock something the Detroit Tigers couldn’t in Isaac Paredes? A.J. Hinch was asked this question. He said I don’t know. In an article written by Detroit Sports Nation about the disturbing nature of that answer. He doesn’t know if Tampa Bay was able to unlock something that the Detroit Tigers couldn’t see. And that doesn’t fall on A.J. Hinch.

Tampa is renowned for the way that they develop players and flip farm systems for players that contend. But my big theory is Isaac Paredes should probably still be a Tiger. Because he just did not get enough run in Detroit when this deal was made back in 2017. I believe it was when they traded Alex Avila and Justin Wilson for Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes was actually the better of the prospects.

The one with more upside, the higher ceiling. He’s still only 23 years. He still is coming into his own as a major league baseball player. Now his profile, he profiles as a less than athletic player, which really hurts his ceiling. But he definitely has the tools and the skills to be a very good major league player.

And I think that Detroit may have given up on him too early. Again, I’m not gonna say it is a bad deal. Because, on the surface, this is a deal that needed to be done. But a few weeks ago I talked about, what if Riley Greene had been up from the beginning of the season, would this season look a lot different?

And I think that we could absolutely say yes that it would, because one, this deal’s not made two. If Candelario and Schoop are struggling, you have Paredes who to throw in there to make, some waves for the Detroit Tigers. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a fact of Tampa Bay, having this magic potion that unlocks so much of what these players are? But maybe there just wasn’t enough run given to Isaac Paredes.

At the end of the day, he’s gotta continue to do what he’s done for the Rays. For this to mean anything. If he doesn’t have a second half, like the first half, then maybe it is a Brennan Boesch situation. Awesome. Meadows struggling is making the deal look worse. Zero home runs in the first half, multiple times on the IL. And time away with vertigo and on the COVID list, and now Achilles strains.

From a baseball perspective, it makes the deal look worse. But we can’t look at this and say, oh, this was a failed deal. We have to say, this deal is necessary to fill a hole that was in the outfield. Because we didn’t know at the time, if Willi Castro could play, in the outfield.

He can be flashy, but he is not a great defensive player. Which really only left us with Grossman and Derek Hill at the time. So making this deal for Austin Meadows was a necessary baseball move and you don’t have to like it. You can look at it and regret it. Sure. I understand that. But at the end of the day, it’s a deal that needed to get done. And that’s the lead-off for today. 

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Written by Amy Price

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