Remember when my colleague, Lynn Henning, broke the story a couple years back about the Blue Jays taking their blockbuster trade chip, Roy Halladay, to the Tigers’ doorstep?
Apparently, Toronto came to the table asking for Rick Porcello, Ryan Perry and Casey Crosby for the perennial Cy Young candidate, to which Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski — with his team sitting pretty atop the AL Central in the summer of 2009 — responded, essentially, thanks but no thanks.
And fans all applauded.
We’re cruising to the playoffs, and we’re loaded with young talent! Life is good!
Boy, who in Detroit wouldn’t make that trade now?
Back in 2009, Porcello and Perry were prized rookies. Now, they’re both trying to find their place in the major leagues. (And occasionally, trying to keep their place in the majors; both have been demoted in the past two years.) Meanwhile, Halladay went on to dominate the NL in ’10, throwing a regular-season perfect game and a postseason no-hitter along the way.
Now in 2011, the Tigers are in a much-less cozy situation, trailing the upstart Indians in the standings and searching for fixes — even if they’re quick fixes — for a flawed team loaded with good major leaguers. It’s also a team that might need a playoff ticket to save the jobs of Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland. It’s why every hour now, there seems to be another rumor hitting the web, each of them telling the story about a desperate team that’s willing to look anywhere, and turn to anyone, for help.
Here’s a list of the starting pitchers who’ve been linked to the Tigers by a variety of sources:
- Bruce Chen, LHP, Royals
- Jeremy Guthrie, RHP, Orioles
- Aaron Harang, RHP, Padres
- Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP, Rockies
- Hiroki Kuroda, RHP, Dodgers
- Derek Lowe, RHP, Braves
- Wandy Rodriguez, LHP, Astros
There also are the occasional blips tying the Tigers to an offensive player. Tonight, SI’s Jon Heyman said the Tigers called the Mets about Carlos Beltran. Of course, that means nothing. I’ve called the Mets about Beltran; he’d be a nice addition to our softball outfield.
Clearly, the focus is on starting pitching. And the Tigers’ list of possibilities is likely to grow wildly with each passing hour leading up to the trade deadline, certain to include about everybody but Jarrod Washburn.
Examining the list above, who would you go with?
Obviously, Jimenez is the star of the bunch, for what he did the first half of last season. The potential to dominate is there, no doubt. Plus, his contract has him making just $17.95 million through 2014 (2013 and ’14 are club options that’ll be no-brainer pickups if he’s even decent from now till then).
He’ll also demand the most in a trade.
More-realistic options might be Chen or Guthrie.
Chen’s had a nice career resurgence in Kansas City, and Detroit’s gotten a good look at him, too. He completely silenced the Tigers’ offense one afternoon earlier this season. Would Royals GM Dayton Moore send him packing in-division, though? Some execs don’t mind doing it, for the right price. Kansas City has done it in recent seasons; Cleveland did it last summer, when shortstop Jhonny Peralta was sent to Detroit. Inter-division is much more common with little-hyped moves; this would be little-hyped.
Chen would give the Tigers a veteran lefty in the rotation, and add next to nothing to the payroll. It’d also be a short commitment. He’s a free agent after the season.
I like him a bit more than Guthrie, even though Chen’s had health issues over the years (and as recently as last month), and even though Guthrie’s not a free agent till 2013.
Kuroda’s not eligible for free agency till 2014, and would be an ideal addition. He’s so solid, never allowing more hits than innings during his four-year major league career. Problem is, he has a full no-trade clause, so he’s obviously not comfortable in every sitting. And Detroit’s no L.A. So Kuroda’s a long shot.
I also can’t see the Tigers pulling the trigger for any of the other three.
Harang’s having a great year in his walk year. Even so, he’s 25-40 with a 4.46 ERA and 617 hits allowed in 551.1 innings since the start of 2008. Difference maker? Uh, no.
Lowe’s a nice story, being from Dearborn and all. He’s also a very expensive version of Brad Penny, due a whopping $15 million next season. Detroit already has one Penny, and he’s making about one-fifth of that.
Rodriguez, likewise, is due some serious cash — $25.5 million guaranteed. And it’ll cost another $10.5 million to pick up the team option for 2014. Long-term investment also means you need to give up more.
And the Tigers probably aren’t in a position to give up the stars and the moon — and the Turners and Crosbys — for anybody.
Well, unless maybe if Roy Halladay was available again.