Inside the Article:
We are exactly two weeks from the MLB Trade Deadline and the Detroit Tigers find themselves at a bit of a crossroads. It's an odd conundrum, sitting nine games below .500 but only five games out of first place in the AL Central there's plenty of murkiness to wade through to make a proper decision. President of Baseball Operations, Scott Harris, said he'd see how the team played out of the All-Star break to make a final decision, but is that the right course of action?
We've decided to let YOU decide. We will lay out the three possible scenarios and their merits and want you to put on your President of Baseball Ops or GM hat and make a choice. What would you do if you were in the driver's seat?
Why it matters
The Tigers have not played postseason baseball since their sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles in 2014. Though they did come within one game of the postseason in 2016 before the seemingly never-ending rebuild began in 2017. They are quite literally in a position to sneak into the playoffs, but their only path is by winning the American League Central, potentially the worst division in all of baseball this season. This coincides with a bit of a dark age for Detroit sports, where our teams have perpetually missed the playoffs. Could this year be a reprieve?
Three possible scenarios for the Detroit Tigers
Yogi Berra once famously said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Well, this isn't a traditional fork for the Tigers, it's more like a trident. There is a three-fold path for the Tigers to move forward when it comes to the MLB Trade Deadline. They have a couple of expiring contracts, that are actually assets they could sell. However, they also are within striking distance of the Division championship. Below are the three scenarios and their merits, you then need to decide what is the best course of action — and it really boils down to immediate gratification (something this fanbase desperately needs) or staying the course to sustainability.
Do nothing and stand pat
We'll start with the least likely scenario, but one that is possible. That's the idea of standing pat and doing nothing at the deadline. No one in and no one out. Riding or dying with the club at hand, the same club that is nine games below .500 and has spells on offense that are drier than the Saraha Desert.
In order to have the full amount of information, you have to understand this is the least likely outcome. There's hardly a world where the Tigers do absolutely nothing at the trade deadline, though it is possible and needs to be included in the options. If the Tigers decide to do nothing that means that expiring contracts and opt-outs will fall off the books at the end of the season. Namely, Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Lorenzen will not be Tigers after this season, even if they finish the year here.
Sell the assets you do have to plan for the future
Here's where it gets interesting. The Tigers have a number of expiring contracts and arms that could be used as trade pieces at the deadline to help build for the future — some of them being pretty valuable. The aforementioned Rodriguez and Lorenzen are the top two pieces that could be moved, with a potential smattering of Jose Cisnero, Jason Foley, Alex Lange, and Akil Baddoo. Now, it must be stated that only one or two of the Cisnero-Foley-Lange combination will be moved, given the amount of control left with the latter two and the need for a good bullpen.
Rodriguez and the bullpen arms should garner a decent return, especially if there is some creativity that happens in packages made. You also run the risk of not getting anything for Rodriguez or Lorenzen who will most likely not be Tigers after this season. Rodriguez will get a hefty payday on the open market this offseason and Lorenzen is only on a one-year deal — a deal that was seemingly meant for this exact purpose: to flip him at the deadline.
It is important to note that Scott Harris inherited a mess from Al Avila. He spent this offseason somewhat quietly building depth within the minor league system and using 2023 as an evaluative year. While this was much to the chagrin of the fanbase, it was somewhat necessary to get the roster righted. Their overachievement this season is due in part to some of the moves he made, namely Zach McKinstry, Matt Vierling, and Andy Ibanez. If this approach is taken, this is purely a “Trust the process” situation.
Buy at the MLB Trade Deadline and push toward the playoffs
Okay, here's where the excitement starts to build. This has been a season of highs and lows. It has been a season best described as a trip to America's Roller Coast, Cedar Pointe. The question that has to be answered is, “Can the Tigers sustain winning enough to make up five games on the Twins?” As of today, the Tigers have 69 games left in the season. According to Tankathon, they have the second easiest schedule left.
They have started the post-All-Star break run going 3-1 with a series win against the Seattle Mariners and a swift come-from-behind win against the Kansas City Royals last night. With three more against the Royals and then three against the San Diego Padres, one against the Giants, three against the Los Angeles Angels, and three against the Miami Marlins before the deadline, the picture will become much clearer. The main question that needs to be answered is whether or not the Tigers, drawing from minimal depth, can afford to dip into their reserves to make any type of real splash at the deadline?
So, what would you do?
These are the options for the Tigers, what would you do if you were Scott Harris? There's validity to all three, though as discussed standing pat is the worse of the three options. The truth is the next two weeks will be pivotal, not only for 2023 but for the future state of the Tigers organization and the tenure of Scott Harris.