Seat No. 17, Part 2
Here we are again projecting the offseason for the Detroit Tigers. What we have been looking at is our view of the route we see the Tigers going, and the one that makes the most sense moving forward.
It should be stated again:
The Tigers 2018 season is not going to be the prettiest baseball, not like the expected championship runs of the last decade. But, if we understand that the team will not be what we've become accustomed to, and “trust the process,” it can pay off in the long run.
The goal of the 2018 season for the Tigers is simply this: save money by suffering through a season of a couple inflated contracts and get your younger players the most experience possible.
In order to achieve this goal, there are certain off season moves the Tigers should make. We'll handle them in four sections: cuts to be made, free agents to sign, trades to make, and projecting the 25-man roster. Each section will be released on subsequent Fridays for the next four weeks.
If need to catch up the previous articles, you can read all about the cuts the Tigers need to make here.
This week will deal solely with the trades the Tigers most likely will pursue and also possible landing spots and return packages for them. There are three possible trade chips, with corresponding rumors, that we will deal with. We could speculate on guys like Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, but nothing substantial has arisen on those fronts. However, two names do continue to pop up: Jordan Zimmermann (surprisingly), Ian Kinsler.
Jordan Zimmermann –
Trade Partner: New York Yankees
Return Package: Jacoby Ellsbury
Right off the bat, this seems like a pointless deal. But, if we look at it objectively, it actually makes a lot of sense. First, it gets Jordan Zimmermann out of the Tigers uniform and secondly, it saves the Tigers money from a terrible, terrible signing. This rumor also has made its way around the interwebs, so not as far-fetched as one might first think.
I won't go into the long laundry list of reasons as to why Jordan Zimmermann shouldn't be in a Tigers uniform last year, I laid out my thoughts on that last week and what the Tigers should do with him. So check out Part One for that.
Beyond a change of scenery, this trade is beneficial for both parties. The Yankees need pitching. Albeit no longer a top end starter, the Yankees are already set there, Zimmermann could be a perfect fit. They need a back-end of the rotation guy to shore things up. With Michael Pineda and C.C. Sabbathia both hitting the free agent market, the Yanks need a veteran arm behind Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Masahiro Tanaka.
Ellsbury, on the other hand, would be a perfect fit for the Tigers who are in desperate need of a fourth outfielder and mentor for JaCoby Jones. Ellsbury had quite the early career with the Boston Red Sox before signing with the Yankees in 2014. For his career, he's 34-years-old, Ellsbury has produced. His career stat line: .284/.342/.417, 104 HR, 512 RBI, and 343 SB.
Now, the problem with this supposed rumor is that both players have full no-trade clauses on their contracts. However, with Zimmermann being given the opportunity to play for a contending team and Ellsbury would be given a chance to play every day, as opposed to sitting in a crowded outfield in New York. According to Spotrac, Ellsbury is owed roughly $63 million over the next three years, with a $21 million club option in 2021 — the buyout is $5 million.
Zimmermann is owed roughly $74 million over the next three years and becomes a free agent in 2021. The deal would save the Tigers $11 million and there's incentive for the Yankees to flip Zimmermann, if they want or need to, because of his modified 10-team trade clause beginning in 2019.
If I'm the Tigers, I'm pulling the trigger on this deal as soon as possible and telling Brian Cashman, “no take backs.”
Ian Kinsler –
Trade Partner: Tampa Bay Rays
Return Package: OF/1B Joe McCarthy & LHP Resly Linares
Ian Kinsler is a beloved Tiger, but it has been no secret that he's on the trading block. He's been there since July of last season. He was claimed off of waivers in August of last season, but no deal was done, and now at the Winter Meetings GM Al Avila is fielding calls on the Tigers keystone man.
Given Kinsler's age and contract, the return package won't be like what we saw for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. So understanding that the return from the Rays of Joe McCarthy and Resly Linares — they're 18th and 29th prospects respectively — makes sense. McCarthy helps to fill a gaping hole of first basemen in the Tigers system and Linares is a 19-year-old athletic pitcher who projects very well.
McCarthy is a left-handed, first baseman and outfielder. He played his college ball at the University of Virginia and projects to crack the Majors sometime this season or next. Here's the book on McCarthy:
McCarthy is a pure hitter who controls the strike zone well and excels at getting on base, with the strength and leverage to produce above-average left-handed power. He got to it more often last season by incorporating better lower-half strength into his swing and turning on more pitches, something he struggled doing when he first returned from injury. McCarthy moves well for his size and applies his above-average speed on the bases and in the outfield. The only below-average tool in his arsenal is his arm, which relegates him to left field, though he did increase his defensive versatility last season through increased work at first base.
Pure hitter. Controls the strike zone. Excels at getting on base. Sounds exactly like the book on Jeimer Candelario last season when he came over in a trade and produced well for the Tigers in September.
The other piece of the trade would be 19-year-old Resy Linares. Signed at 17, the lanky lefty has done well, producing a solid 2.35 ERA, 61.1 IP, 60 ks, and .171 BAA in short-season rookie ball this season. The scouts even believe he'll project well and “stick as a starter. Here's what they had to say,
Linares stands out for his remaining physical projection, as he already shows a fast arm with plenty of room to grow into his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame. That leads scouts to believe he'll add more velocity to his fastball, which currently sits at 88-92 mph and bumps 94. His curveball is an above-average offering, one thrown with tight spin and late biting action, and he also shows some feel for a changeup.
That Linares is athletic and has a clean, repeatable arm action aids him as a strike-thrower, and he should develop as least average command as well. Adding strength to his wiry frame will be key for the left-hander, who has the arsenal and feel to stick as a starter.
Both McCarthy and Linares would make the sting of losing such a pivotal player sting just a little less. Both could be long-term solutions, with it sounding like Linares could always transition to the bullpen if need be. Again, if I'm Al Avila I'm calling up the Rays and trying to get this deal done.
It is true that the trade chips the Tigers have aren't high-prospect getting guys. You may ask, what about Jose Iglesias? Well, I examined that. There is literally no place other than maybe the Reds if they don't resign Zach Cozart. But every other MLB team has a shortstop prospect about to break in (OAK, SD), an established shortstop (LAD, LAA, SF, et al) or young guys already in the mix (COL, ATL, et al). So the hope is that Iglesias proves his worth, and if a team has a need due to injury, the Tigers are ready to sell.
Other names that will most likely be tossed around are Shane Greene and Alex Wilson. But there has been little rumblings about the two of them; however, come July, they'll be a hot commodity.
If the Tigers can make the two above mentioned moves, they'll be on the right track with their rebuild and finally have enough prospects at positions to compete for MLB jobs. Only time will tell if the trigger is pulled on any of these deals.
Be on the lookout for Part Three: Free Agent signings next Friday, November 24, 2017.