Jun 17, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Matt Joyce (20) doubles during the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers should trade for Matt Joyce

Matt Joyce came into pinch-hit for Jose Molina during Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He flied out to right in his lone at-bat. With the loss, the Tampa Bay Rays fell to 31-48 — a major-league worst.

Despite the hype and World Series aspirations coming into the season, it’s irrefutable the Rays, who have produced a winning-record since 2008, will be sellers at the trade deadline.

The Rays’ front office has shown in the past they are proactive, and there’s no reason to think this year will be an aberration from that approach. Especially, because, for the first time in a while, the Rays aren’t very good. So, this means players such as Ben Zobrist, David Price, and Matt Joyce will most likely be switching uniforms.

Earlier in the week, I explored if the lack of left-handed hitters on the Detroit Tigers was hurting them. While I did find that having just one left-handed bat in the lineup on a consistent basis barely had an impact on Detroit, it was evident that they could use a left-handed bench bat.

Currently, Don Kelly, the lone left-handed hitter on the bench, has churned a weak .233/.313/.291 slash line in 96 plate appearances. He’s not getting the job done, and it’s time for them to move on.

As we’ve seen time and time again, depth is a crucial element for teams to succeed. Last year’s World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox, had more depth than anybody. A playoff bench of Mike Carp, Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks, and David Ross gave them flexibility.

To fortify their bench, Detroit should pursue Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Matt Joyce.

Joyce, age 29, began his career with the Tigers in 2008. His tenure in the Motor City, however, was short and a year later was in a Rays uniform. Since then, he’s experienced ups and downs with Tampa. That said, it’s obvious throughout his career he’s been an above-average bat with an exceptional .251/.342/.448 career clip.

It’s a bat that Detroit could use, considering Rajai Davis (.662 OPS) and Austin Jackson (.626 OPS)  have been poor against right-handed pitching this year.

He wouldn’t cost much at all, and provides the Tigers with much-needed depth. The real question should be; why not?

Tags: Detroit Tigers Matt Joyce Tampa Bay Rays

  • JosephofMichigan

    I often wonder how much people research a team before making suggestions. First of all, Andy Dirks is rehabbing right now and should return sometime in July. Guess what? He is a left handed bat that plays in the OF. Oh, he was on the short list for a gold glove last season and in an off year for hitting had a slash line of .256/ .323/ .363. Career numbers are: .276/ .332/ .413. I would suspect him to go more towards those numbers. Then of course, is the fact JD Martinez is crushing the ball right now. That means the Tigers already have 4 OF’s (before Dirks returns) that are on rotation with 3 spots (oh that’s not counting Kelly). Yeah Kelly is not the left-handed bat they need… but will most likely be released when Dirks returns. While Dirks does not have as much power, he will hit for average and provide stellar defense. Honestly, the Tigers could end up trading away an OF as opposed to trying to acquire another one in an already crowded OF. What would they address? I would suspect the bullpen first. Of course, Hanrahan is also suppose to return in July. With that, Tigers could add a little more depth, but don’t necessarily need any big arms.

    • Patrick Green

      I’m cognizant of that, but those career numbers are significantly distorted by a 2012 year in which he compiled an unsustainable .365 BABIP. He’s more of the hitter we saw last year and in 2011. Didn’t hit in the minor-leagues, either. Last year was the first year he compiled a positive dWAR. Not sold on him at all — especially being banged up. Joyce is durable and the better hitter.

      • JosephofMichigan

        The term “durable” is irrelevant as well. Players get hurt all the time. Prince Fielder was considered Mr. “Durable” up to as soon as last year. Kinsler on the other hand had been injured before. Who would have thought the roles would have flipped this soon?

        As far as Dirks, he is still pretty young (28). Again, I have liked what I have seen from Dirks and his all around solid defense and upside in offense. Could he end up not working out? Perhaps, but he hasn’t shown otherwise that he won’t either. You forget that Dirk’s injury dates back to last season with him toughing out most of the year. A healthy Dirks could be plenty better than a declining Joyce.

        With plenty of time before trade deadline, I say see what the players you have can do before getting an unknown product that you don’t even know how it will mesh with the rest of the team.

        • Patrick Green

          Dirks is a decent player, but I believe Joyce is more consistent. One, with Joyce, you don’t have a guy who is playing while simultaneously recuperating. Second, I am fairly certain Dirks still has a minor-league option remaining. Some time in the minor-leagues to recover and refine his approach will do him some good.

          • JosephofMichigan

            Just can’t agree with you on this Patrick. I can’t see giving up any player for another player that is not really an upgrade over what a team already has. You talk about another player that is more than just “consistent” and might actually be able to be a true upgrade, then we can talk. But looking at someone with a .257 BA and 3 HR’s and 27 RBI’s in 214 at-bats makes no sense. All 4 (yes 4) OF for the Tigers have far better or on par numbers (which is the CF).:

            Davis- 211 AB: 5 HR/ 23 RBI/ .280 BA
            JD Martinez- 118 AB: 8 HR/ 29 RBI/ .314 BA
            Hunter- 229 AB: 9 HR/ 35 RBI/ .266 BA
            Jackson- 249 AB: 3 HR/ 20 RBI/ .253 BA

            Like I said, Joyce’s numbers are not any better than any of than 3 of those 4… and the 4th they are about the same. Plus Joyce is not a CF so that is actually a moot point. Your trade would not make Tigers better…

          • Patrick Green

            RBIs are of unequal opportunities, and batting average equates a single the same as a HR. Looking at Joyce’s OPS against RHP, he’s worth pursuing. Nevertheless, thanks for reading and commenting!

          • Joshua Giovannone

            I don’t want Joyce, I want Yasmani Tomas. Every year we see another Cuba player defect and become an excellent player, why not cash in on this opportunity to get a good hitting outfielder? It makes sense if Hunter starts slowing down more.

    • Patrick Green

      And based on Martinez’s track record, are you really sold on him? Maybe sell-high on him and trade him at the deadline, because he doesn’t have anywhere to play. He has a .367 BABIP, and is bound to regress.

      • JosephofMichigan

        JD actually has a pretty decent career when he has had a chance to play. Year by year, JD has comparable or better stats than Joyce. Less games? Sure. But that proves nothing more than JD is more than 3 years younger than Joyce. People keep wanting this player or that and forget that sometimes when you go out and trade for the “right” guy he just happened to hit his prime and starting to go down. JD, even in his lower years, still had decent stats. In 86 games last year, JD had the slash line of .250/ .272/ .378. What was Joyce? .235/ .328/ .419. Honestly, not that much better… especially for being 3 years older and having more experience. JD on the other hand appears to have a better upside over Joyce. What’s the best part? You already have JD and have to make no trade. Trades can also lead changing the team makeup. Why change what works? I know what you are saying about a left-handed bat, but honestly I am willing to wait at this point.