Detroit Tigers: Al Avila is finally seeing a return on trade

Motor City Bengals

The Detroit Tigers are seeing the results from the 2017 trade with the Chicago Cubs.

The narrative you can throw out there among Detroit Tigers fans on social media that is an easy one to say is “We won the trade!” with one play or a series of events.  In the Dave Dombroski era, the Tigers won various trades ranging from the Carlos Guillen trade to the Miguel Cabrera deal and those provided immediate impact.

During the Al Avila era, it has been a struggle to say that. The J.D Martinez trade has returned very little with Dawel Lugo DFA last week (he is back in camp) and as of right now, the Justin Verlander deal while showing promise in Jake Rogers, Franklin Perez is just getting healthy and Daz Cameron Jr, the reports since this season began, have been scarce.

But with the Chicago Cubs in town, you don’t need to look any further than at the corner positions with Issac Paredes and Jeimer Candelario. They were both picked up in exchange for Justin Wilson on July 31, 2017.

Wilson at the time of the trade was doing well. He posted an ERA of 2.38 while holding right-hand hitters to just a .131 batting average. Lefties were not doing much better, hitting .220 against him.

The trade value at the time was that Candelario was rated as the top prospect in the Cubs’ minor league system according to MLB Pipeline. But the Cubs were not blind to what they gave up to the Detroit Tigers when it comes to Isaac Paredes.

Back in October 2017, Sahadev Sharma, who covers the Cubs for the Atheltic ($), wrote a piece about Theo Epstein’s trade history. When it came to Paredes, this is what he said.

“Isaac Paredes, now in Double-A, has turned into a high-average, contact-hitting infielder and a top-100 prospect. The Cubs weren’t unaware of what they gave up in Paredes. But when a system isn’t replenished every year with quality talent, these smaller moves suddenly become magnified as organizational depth slowly erodes.”

As fellow co-expert Chris Brown has said numerous times, prospects are currently. Both Candelario and Paredes were behind players who just brought the Cubs their first World Series in over 100 years. Epstein did what had to be done to keep Chicago in contention.

Getting back to the Tigers, look at the production of Candelario since he started the season 0-for-17.  In 20 games in the month of August,  he has hit .338./.363./.571 with a BAbip of .429 and he has picked up his average against right-handers, hitting them now at .254 still while hitting lefties very well at a .348 clip with an OPS of .984.

We as a collective here at MCB and others on social call Isaac Paredes a “professional hitter”. His approach at the plate is very noticeable compared to other players. He was one of the first positional players the Tigers had on Baseball America’s Top 100 outside of Nick Castellanos for a reason.

In addition to Paredes being the first Tiger since Brennan Boesch in 2010 whose first MLB home run comes off a grand slam, among Tigers’ third baseman rookies going back to 1981, he is off to a good start. Of course, adding the disclaimer of sample size, I threw in two Tigers who came up to play third base who ended up having solid careers and were both 21 years old like Paredes.

  • 1982:  Howard Johnson in his first seven games. 2-for-13 (.154/.154/.154). He was called up on from Triple-A Evansville on April 13, 1982.
  • 1990: Travis Fryman in his first seven games after being called up in July of 1990. 4-for-18 with 3 walks, 5 strikeouts 1 home run (.222/.333/.444)

Both players were All-Stars, (be it that Johnson with the Mets) and had solid major league careers. Paredes barrels up on the ball when makes contact, takes pitches with confidence, and has done a good job of handling one of the hardest positions on the diamond at the hot corner.

It is nice for once for the Detroit Tigers to “win the trade”. But it’s more than that. Looking at the current state of affairs, you are looking at two pieces that can give you at least average to possible above-average production. Al Avila has yet to have a 2.0 WAR player from his trades and signings  (2.0 WAR being an average player) but could finally have a case here.

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