With June coming to a close the Detroit Tigers find themselves in a familiar position – atop the AL Central with one of the best records in the league. Detroit’s success has been carried on two pillars: a strong offense and a starting rotation that has been among the best in baseball. Yet, the Tigers still find themselves with a number of holes that could/should be addressed before the trade deadline and the organization appears willing to make a move if it will make a difference in their chances at winning the World Series.
Detroit’s biggest need appears to be at the backend of their bullpen and according to reports (specifically a mention by ESPN’s Jayson Stark), the team has become more willing to deal one of their top positional prospects – Nick Castellanos or Avisail Garcia – in order to facilitate a deal. Such willingness is a different approach than that which the organization has taken in the past, which either suggests they’ve become more desperate to make a move or they’ve become less convinced that the pair will make an impact upon arriving in the Major Leagues.
Castellanos entered the season as the 21st best prospect in all of baseball, according to both Baseball America and MLB.com’s pre-season rankings. Primarily a third baseman since he was drafted in 2010, Detroit began converting Castellanos into a corner outfielder last season in an effort to find a way to work him into their future lineup considering the team’s long term commitments at each infield corner (Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder aren’t going anywhere anytime soon). He’s almost exclusively played left field this season at Triple-A Toledo and has batted .299/.376/.481 in 351 PA. His 10 HR match a career best (set last season). He’s already walked more than he did all of last year (in 200 fewer PA).
Garcia, meanwhile, has been seeing time in Detroit’s outfield already this year – albeit sporadically – after debuting in 2012. He’s hitting .250/.284/.395 in 81 PA. Baseball America ranked him as the 74th best prospect in baseball heading into the season, the first time he’s ever appeared on one of the major top prospect rankings. He’s posted solid numbers at the plate in his minor league career, a .286/.320/.401 line over six seasons.
Depending on which closer the Tigers elect to pursue in the coming weeks the price they’ll have to pay in order to make a deal happen will likely vary. It’s tough to say whether they’ll need to move either Castellanos or Garcia in such a move, though I think it’s clear that Garcia would be the preferred option of the two to surrender if necessary. Detroit’s willingness to move one of them might amount to nothing when things are said and done, but it’s worth keeping in mind this newfound openness to including them in a trade should rumblings increase about one of the bigger name closers possibly heading to join the Tigers.