Jun. 22, 2016
Detroit Tigers: Possible Outfield Trade Targets
The Detroit Tigers are in need to outfield depth, despite having what was a great starting three, offensively and defensively, in Cameron Maybin, Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez – who went down with an broken elbow and will be out 4-6 weeks – the Tigers benched lacks the necessary depth. Before Maybin’s return there were a number of players that got a turn in the outfield for Detroit; however a majority of these players have not fared well at the major league level this season.
The Tigers currently have Mike Aviles and Andrew Romine on the big league roster, both of whom are considered to be the backups for the starting outfielders. Unfortunately, each has not provided much production at the plate. Aviles has managed only 16 hits (.225 batting average) and four RBIs in his chances this season while Romine has struggled to collect six hits (.162) and 4 RBI. While both of these players are versatile and can play multiple, if not every, position on the field both are not providing enough offense and bring little to no power to the plate.
The minor league system may have some viable options for Detroit in Steven Moya and JaCoby Jones; however they truly need more seasoning before becoming mainstays on a major league roster. Moya enjoyed some success during his stint in Detroit earlier this season, batting .281 with two RBI in nine games. Moya is currently hitting .302 with 13 home runs and 38 RBI in Triple-A Toledo, which could make him a solid replacement for the injured J.D. Martinez. However, in regards to Moya, it is my belief that he needs to stay in Triple-A and continue to work on his swing, especially seeing that he has made some major offensive adjustments coming into the 2016 season.
JaCoby Jones has crushed the ball since returning from his suspension, hitting .319 with five home runs and 24 RBI combined at Double-A and Triple-A. Jones has made a quick jump from Double-A to Triple-A this season in the Tiger’s farm system, however, I do not believe he is ready to make the jump to the Majors and contribute at the necessary level for the Detroit Tigers.
Two other players in the minors for Detroit that have spent some time with the big league club are Tyler Collins and Anthony Gose. Both however did not fare well at the big league level and are struggling in Toledo as well. Neither seems to be the fix for the depth issue on the Tiger’s roster.
With the lack of the necessary players at the minor league level to add the necessary depth to the roster, the Detroit Tigers may look to add an outfielder via a trade. Below are 5 potential trade targets for the Tigers to consider.
Jon Jay – San Diego Padres: Jay is enjoying a solid season batting .290 with 22 RBI this season for the Padres. He is set to hit free agency at the end of the 2016 season and would be solid rental player with potential of resigning to a team friendly contract if he played well in Detroit. The Padres are currently 14 games back within their division with a record of 27-40 and have already made a move to trade away James Shields to the Chicago White Sox. It is possible San Diego is looking to rebuild their roster and Detroit could possible get Jay on the cheap. According to baseball-reference.com Jay also holds a .993 fielding percentage committing only one error in 2016.
Brandon Drury – Arizona Diamondbacks: Drury is playing in his first full season at the Major League level for the Diamondbacks. Currently batting a respectable .270 with eight home runs and 18 RBI, Drury would be a nice addition to Detroit’s bench and would provide a bit of pop as well. The young outfield holds a career .285 average at the minor league level. During his time in Arizona the rookie has been a versatile player, playing in right field, left field as well as at second and third base thus far. Over the a span of 286.2 innings (35 games) in the outfield Drury has committed only one error in 61 chances. The Diamondbacks find themselves 10 games below .500 this season (29-39) and 12.5 games back in their division. Making a trade for Drury may be tough, he is only 23 years old and may be considered to be part of the future of the Diamondbacks organization, and however, if Detroit were to land him he would add much needed depth to the roster.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Milwaukee Brewers: Nieuwenhuis has spent nearly his entire career in the National League and has not necessarily been impressive with the bat, posting a .229 career average. However, despite the low batting average Nieuwenhuis knows how to get on base averaging 44 walks a season in limited plate appearances for a career .312 OBP. The outfielder has played all three outfield positions in his career and has not committed an error since 2014 when he was with the New York Mets. In fact in 446 career chances he has only committed five career errors. Nieuwenheuis is due to hit free agency after the 2016 season and would be a nice depth addition for Detroit. With Milwaukee 15 games back in the National League Central a deal between the Brewers and Detroit Tigers make sense.
Desmond Jennings – Tampa Bay Rays: Jennings is another player set to hit the free agent market after the 2016 season and could be a good fit in Detroit. He has spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay Rays and had very solid seasons between 2011-2014 where he provided some pop with 10 or more homers a season along with 15 or more steals and the ability to drive in runs. However, 2015 and 2016 have been somewhat of a struggle for Jennings. It’s possible that he simply needs a change of scenery and Detroit could be that destination. Jennings has proven that he can have an impact on a major league roster and would make a solid 4th outfield option for the Tigers for the remainder of 2016.
Nick Markakis – Atlanta Braves: Markakis may be a bit of a long shot in regards to a trade, but he would bring nice depth to Detroit’s roster. Markakis finds himself playing for the dumpster fire Atlanta Braves who are the bottom feeders of the Major Leagues with a 19-46 record and 21.5 games back in the NL East. The outfielder is currently in his second year of a 4-year $44 million contract and his underperforming so far this season. Currently batting .243 with only 1 home run, Markakis has hit .289 over the course of his career and averaged 15 home runs a season according to baseball-reference.com. It is possible that the Braves will look to dump some of their larger contracts and continue their rebuilding process, however, taking on an $11 million a year contract may be a bit expensive for Detroit, especially when two of their starting outfielders make far less – J.D. Martinez $3 million and Cameron Maybin $7.1 million. However, Markakis has proven himself over his career to be a reliable player and would add much needed depth to Detroit.