Valuing the trade chips: Detroit Tigers
Will they or won’t they? That’s the choice facing the Tigers as they decide whether to trade their best chip or not.
On the one hand, Matthew Boyd has the highest trade value of any of their obvious chips, and it isn’t even close. He’d bring back a significant return, as you’ll see below. Further, they know they waited too long to trade Michael Fulmer when interest was high on him about a year ago, and his value has since declined significantly, so they may not want to make the same mistake twice.
On the other hand, Boyd has three more years of control after this one, and he’s only 28, so one could argue that they’re better off keeping him around for their next contention window. After all, they have some good pitching prospects coming, and will have more money to spend in the market after 2020 when Jordan Zimmermann’s contract expires, which figures to be around the same time they’ll look to be competitive again. With that in mind, they could even look to extend Boyd and view him as a future anchor to the young staff.
So let’s look at the most likely trade chips for the Tigers, and their values as we have them as of June 2019 (values in $Ms):
- Boyd: 37.1
- Norris: 14.0
- Greene: 5.2
- Castellanos: 2
- Harrison: 1.6
- Hardy: 1.3
- Beckham: 1.2
- Mercer: -0.8
- Ross: -2.6
As you can see, GM Al Avila doesn’t have a lot to work with here. Although we’ve included swingman Daniel Norris, we don’t think there will be a lot of interest him this summer as he doesn’t fit the profile of what teams are looking for at the summer trade deadline – he’s still a longer-term project, albeit one with some upside left.
Reliever Shane Greene, on the other hand, will be a hot commodity, and we think he’ll go at the high end of his range because of that. He has one more year of control after this one, which adds to his appeal.
Avila has been trying to trade slugging outfielder Nicholas Castellanos for some time now, to no avail. But we think he’ll definitely go this summer, because he’s in his walk year, and at this point Avila will have no choice but to take the best offer he gets for him. We think there will be interest, as Castellanos’ bat will help a contending team, albeit more likely one in the AL, as he has negative defensive value.
It’s also possible swingman Blaine Hardy will receive some mild interest, but there isn’t much value left there. Unlike last year, where he was used as a starter with enough success that he drew interest from the A’s, among others, this year he’s been used exclusively as a reliever, with disappointing results. As such, he won’t garner much of a return.
After that, the pickings get even slimmer. Josh Harrison is injured. Jordy Mercer and Gordon Beckham are low-value journeymen; Tyson Ross has disappointed; and Jordan Zimmermann has a huge underwater contract, a no-trade clause, injury troubles, and unattractive stats. And we won’t even mention Miguel Cabrera’s contract.
So let’s start by exploring sample trades for Boyd:
Since the Tigers have a plethora of pitching prospects coming, they know they need to stock their farm with more quality position players. This trade does exactly that, netting them three of the A’s top prospects – albeit ones who occupy the A’s second tier. Armenteros has high upside as a power bat; Mateo has been hot at AAA and brings speed and defense as well as a hit tool; and Neuse profiles as a regular 3B with a strong hit tool and arm. Boyd fits the A’s need for a top, reliable starter. This is a package high on quantity, with reasonable quality.
This is a smaller package that emphasizes quality over quantity, as Waters’ stock has been climbing to the point where his value is almost equal to that of Boyd. De La Cruz sweetens the deal, and also makes sense from the Braves’ standpoint as he is Rule 5-eligible this year.
Option 3: Tigers get 1B/OF Yordan Alvarez from the Astros
And this is a straight 1:1 deal. Alvarez has been tearing up AAA and looks like an impact bat for years to come. He brings little defensive value, however, so he profiles as a middle-of-the-lineup presence only, albeit a strong one.
Now let’s look at what Greene might return.
Wong has some upside behind the plate (and is likely blocked by higher-ranked catching prospects in the LA system) and Alvarez may be attractive as a turnaround candidate, as he was once a top prospect but has such severe control problems that he’s likely reached rock bottom in the Dodgers system.
Option 2: Tigers get OF Brennen Davis from the Cubs
Davis was a second-round pick in the 2018 draft who’s shown immediate results in his pro career, and as such offers the upside the Tigers may be seeking as a return for Greene.
And for Castellanos, let’s try one match:
Tigers get OF Gilberto Jimenez from the Red Sox
Jimenez is an 18-year-old who is off to an excellent start in his stateside career. Castellanos may be a fit as a bench bat to strengthen the Red Sox lineup even further and help them close the gap in the AL East. It’s a plus that Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski knows Castellanos from his previous years as the Detroit GM.
So if the Tigers decide not to trade Boyd this summer, they don’t have much to work with. If they do, it will accelerate their rebuild.