Chances are high that the Detroit Tigers will make the playoffs this season. Entering play on Saturday the team held the largest divisional lead in the American League and sat just a few percentage points behind the Boston Red Sox for the best overall record in the league. A collapse that kept them from the postseason would have to be nearly catostrophic at this point in the season. Detroit already has questions they must face with regards to their potential playoff roster, however, and a big one at that.
Do they welcome Jhonny Peralta back once he’s served his 50 game suspension?
It’s a question that’s been quietly pondered since Peralta was first suspended in early August for his involvement with the BioGenesis scandal that has become a focal point of the 2013 MLB season. At the time the suspension was announced, Detroit had 53 games remaining on their season’s schedule and it seemed only natural that they’d benefit from getting Peralta back in time for the playoffs. Yet, according to Chris Iott at MLive.com, the team has yet to make any decisions regarding Peralta’s status at season’s end.
One of twelve players who accepted suspensions from Major League Baseball, Peralta received a fair amount of extra attention at the time of the announcement thanks to Detroit’s position in the standings. He and Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers could both potentially return in time for the postseason for their respective teams, a fact that many have criticized with regards to how the league handles these type of suspensions. The San Francisco Giants experienced a similar issue a year ago with Melky Cabrera. The Giants elected to tell Cabrera to just stay home instead of having him rejoin the roster.
Detroit seemingly knew that a suspension was looming (perhaps even probable) for Peralta considering they picked up Jose Iglesias prior to the July trade deadline. Iglesias wasn’t just an insurance option for the remainder of this season. He’s still under team control for the foreseeable future. Peralta, who was originally slated to earn $6 Million this season, will be a free agent at season’s end. Questions already loomed regarding whether the team would look to bring Peralta back before the BioGenesis news first became public. Now it appears even more likely that the team won’t bother to bring him back, given how pleased they are with Iglesias’ production level of late.
Iglesias – who has batted .280/.330/.354 in 89 PA since joining the Tigers – appears to have settled in quite nicely in the Tigers lineup. Peralta did hit .305/.361/.461 in 436 PA on the year prior to receiving his suspension. Assuming he’s remained in “baseball shape” while away from the team, Peralta might be a nice bat off the bench during the team’s upcoming playoff run. He’s a .265/.381/.353 pinch-hitter in his career (just 42 PA), with just one extra base hit – not exactly inspiring numbers. At 31 years of age he’ll attract some degree of interest on the free agent market this winter, but it’s looking more and more likely that Detroit won’t be among the teams looking to retain his services.
Given the distractions and the inevitable, add in the fact that he’s been more than adequately replaced, and there doesn’t appear to be much reason for Detroit to worry about bringing Peralta back for a playoff run.