Inside the Article:
The trade deadline is quickly approaching and the Detroit Tigers will be sellers – or at least should be. Though maybe you don't agree and want to read the validity of their other courses of action. The right choice seems to sell with only a 2.8% playoff chance, eight games below .500, five games back of the Minnesota Twins, and 9.5 games back of a Wild Card spot with only 66 games left to play. Though the sale doesn't need to be massive, the team could choose to move expiring deals and bolster their 2024 roster.
Why it matters
This is President of Baseball Operations, Scott Harris's, first real test of his tenure. While he was on the job a short time for the offseason and has already seemingly nailed his first draft, the real test of his savvy will be how he handles trade deadlines – and this one specifically. He has assets that can be traded to help with his level-setting the roster and plans moving forward. In order to do that, he'll need to move a couple of pieces in the upcoming weeks.
The Detroit Tigers' tradable assets
As the deadline approaches there are really two camps of assets that Scott Harris can work with. There's the one group with expiring contracts that should be moved and those with team control that can be moved. We'll look at each of them.
Players that should be traded
When you're in the position the Tigers are in you have to look at expiring contracts as tradable. For the Tigers, Matt Boyd's season-ending surgery leaves them with four players whose contracts are either expiring or could opt out after this season: Eduardo Rodriguez, Michael Lorenzen, Chasen Shreve, and Jose Cisnero. Two starters; two relievers. Pieces that could be pretty valuable to an actually contending team.
We'll start with the starters: Rodriguez and Lorenzen. Each of them is pitching well for the Tigers, with Lorenzen being the lone All-Star representative from the club. Rodriguez could opt out of his contract, which places Scott Harris in a bit of a predicament. But there is no doubt there will be suitors for the best available starter with a minimum of 70 innings pitched.
While Rodriguez could bring back a promising package, Michael Lorenzen will fetch less, but still good, in the way of return. The 32-year-old has put together a pretty solid campaign and has found himself directly in the midst of trade discussions. He's been worth 1.2 WAR in the first half and that ranks him 43rd among starters according to FanGraphs. Being able to flip him at the deadline had to be one of the intentions he was signed with in the offseason, and it seemingly is working out in the Tigers' favor. For teams looking to solidify their back end of the rotation, there really isn't a better choice than Lorenzen.
Aside from the two starters, the Tigers have two relievers that could fetch a return at the deadline. Cisnero and Shreve both have been pretty good this season, with Shreve having not allowed a run in his six July appearances. However, with the emergence of Tyler Holton, Shreve is expendable and absolutely should be moved. With teams constantly needing to shore up their bullpen, look for either – or both – of these guys to be moved within the next few weeks.
Players that could be traded too
Here's where things get really interesting and fans usually balk at. There are three names that could absolutely be traded or packaged with some of the above assets in order to sweeten a return. Jason Foley, Alex Lange, and Akil Baddoo could all be on the block and available to teams. At first glance, the common refrain would be, “Why do we continually trade away our good players for prospects?” This is a fair criticism, but when we are speaking of the two back-end of the bullpen guys, their return would be pretty nice and should lessen the sting of losing them.
Both bullpen guys have been superb this season, even with Lange's recent command issues. Each of them has pitched in high-leveraged situations and each has a number of controllable years left on their contract. This makes them valuable to a team that is looking to solidify their end-of-game arms. The bottom line is that bullpen arms tend to be pretty volatile and cashing in when their value is the best is always preferred – look no further than the Milwaukee Brewers trade of Josh Hader last season.
Now, Baddoo may seem odd to include on this list. But we have to look at a couple of different factors. Number one, as it stands Baddoo is basically a fourth outfield option and a chaos creator at the end of the bench. That's not a bad thing, but the Tigers have more productive outfielders that they can play. Not to mention, Parker Meadows is pounding on the door ready to make his MLB Debut. Do the Tigers need another left-handed hitting outfielder? Baddoo's skillset could be attractive to teams looking for that pinch runner, chaos creator on the basepaths heading into the postseason. Easily a value add to a deal to sweeten the return as well.
The bottom line
The Tigers need to sell and look for Scott Harris to be working some deals that will improve this team and roster. He's already improved this team from 2022 to 2023 and there's no reason to believe that it won't continue with these very respectable trade pieces. It's going to get really interesting over the next week and a half, so buckle up and enjoy the process because it's about to get really fun.