The Detroit Tigers have been fielding calls on their starting shortstop, Jhonny Peralta, for the better part of the off-season. Earlier reports had talks between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, with Peralta as the centerpiece but it appears Arizona has moved on in their quest for a new shortstop.
The Oakland Athletics traded away Cliff Pennington (to Arizona, who apparently doesn’t consider him to be a major league regular at short), then watched as Stephen Drew became a free agent. A couple days ago, the A’s had all but agreed to a deal that would have brought them Yunel Escobar from the Marlins, only to back away at the eleventh hour over concerns about Escobar’s reputation as a malcontent.
Drew remains on the market and Oakland has maintained dialogue, but the Scott Boras client figures to land a contract larger than the one Oakland wants to give him. According to Susan Slusser, GM Billy Beane would like to make a deal with the Tigers to obtain Peralta, should Detroit find a way to upgrade the position themselves. They are know to have been interested in Drew as well.
Slusser’s piece notes that while Oakland cannot offer the right handed hitting outfielder the Tigers are seeking to play left field, Detroit like second baseman Jemile Weeks and envision moving him to the outfield. Despite a mid-season demotion to Triple-A, the A’s are still high on Weeks and are in no hurry to move him and it seems unlikely the Tigers would feel like this is a great fit for them either. Weeks has only ever played second base and the Tigers have Omar Infante employed at that position.
Weeks is just 25 years old and has elite speed, but is a below-average defender at second base. He struggled at the plate last season, but burst onto the scene in 2011 with a .303/.340/.421 line. Part of his struggles was due to a near 100 point drop in his batting average on balls in play, facilitated by a significantly lower line drive rate. Assuming Weeks is actually somewhere in the middle of the hitter he was in 2011 and the one who struggled in 2012, you find a guy who gets on base at a fairly high rate and can wreak havoc once he gets there. The Tigers haven’t had many guys like that in the past 30 years or so.
One remote possibility, should a trade involving these two take place, is that the Tigers could install Weeks at second and play Infante at shortstop. Though he has been primarily a second baseman throughout his career, Infante has logged nearly 1800 career innings at short. He likely wouldn’t be as good defensively as he is at second base, but Infante would cover more ground than Peralta, which is what the Tigers are trying to accomplish by seeking out a new shortstop.