Detroit Tigers should consider trading each of these 5 players before next season begins

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold | Detroit Free Press

With new manager AJ Hinch on board, the Detroit Tigers‘ process of returning to consistent success begins this winter.

This offseason, the Tigers won’t have problems finding players on short-term contracts to plug holes in the lineup. But free agency moves might not be the end of the road for the franchise this winter.

[ ‘Being opportunistic is key’: Inside Tigers manager AJ Hinch’s philosophy on free agency ]

They need to think about making trades.

“We got a lot of things to do between now and when a team is put on the field in spring training and into April, but the good times are coming,” Hinch said Oct. 30, the day he was hired. “And we’ve got to go put in the work to make sure that happens because this fan base, this ownership group, this front office and these players, they deserve it.”

[ Detroit Tigers reportedly interested in right-hander Taijuan Walker ]

The Tigers didn’t do much at last season’s trade deadline, only sending outfielder Cameron Maybin to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for 25-year-old infield prospect Zack Short. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, now a free agent, and left-handed reliever Daniel Norris gained interest, but general manager Al Avila held onto them in hopes of a playoff push.

FOR SUBSCRIBERS: Explaining Tigers’ inaction at trade deadline, and what the choices mean moving forward

Instead, the Tigers struggled in September and finished 23-35 in the shortened season. They were last in the American League Central for the fourth time in six years.

Here are five players the Tigers should consider trading this offseason:

Daniel Norris

Age: 27.

Free agent: After 2021 season.

2020 stats: 3-1, 3.25 ERA, 14 games (1 start), 27⅔ IP, 25 H, 10 ER, 2 HR, 7 BB, 28 K, 1.157 WHIP.

The buzz: Norris is eligible for free agency next winter, and there might not be a better time than now for the Tigers to trade him for a second-tier prospect. He moved to the bullpen this year, got his command in check and strived. As a reliever, Norris had a 2.77 ERA with 28 strikeouts and five walks. His career is filled with inconsistencies, especially as a starter. If the Tigers don’t plan to extend Norris’ contract, it would be wise to take what they can get this offseason, considering his value is higher than it has been in years and the team isn’t expected to compete for the playoffs in 2021.

Possible suitors: San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Seattle Mariners.

Matthew Boyd

Age: 29.

Free agent: After 2022 season.

2020 stats: 3-7, 6.71 ERA, 12 G, 60⅓ IP, 67 H, 45 ER, 15 HR, 22 BB, 60 K, 1.475 WHIP.

The buzz: The 2019 trade deadline passed without the Tigers moving Boyd, and they didn’t send him elsewhere last winter. The decision to keep him, at least so far, isn’t paying dividends. The franchise has numerous pitching prospects on the rise, so Boyd might get bumped from the rotation before he becomes a free agent. Right now, Boyd is considered a reclamation-type starter with strong leadership characteristics — two selling points the Tigers could use to their advantage. Still, it might be too late.

Possible suitors: New York Mets, Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants.

Jeimer Candelario

Age: 26.

Free agent: After 2023 season.

2020 stats: 52 G, .297 AVG, .369 OBP, .503 SLG, 11 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 20 BB, 49 K.

The buzz: Candelario just had the best season of his career, so it’s time to sell high. Isaac Paredes, a 21-year-old prospect, can hold down third base, and 2020 No. 1 overall draft pick Spencer Torkelson — who the Tigers project to play third base instead of first base — has a chance to crack the majors next season. Also, note Candelario’s month-by-month offensive breakdown: 0-for-17 in July, 32-for-90 (.356) in August and 23-for-78 (.295) in September.

Through 39 gamesfrom Aug. 2 to Sept. 15, Candelario had a .373 batting average and .641 slugging percentage. However, in his last eight games of the season (from Sept. 16 to Sept. 24), Candelario was 2-for-26 (.077).

If the Tigers believe Candelario’s supposed breakthrough was only a 39-game hot streak, then they would be smart to trade him at the peak of his value. His past numbers, a .203 batting average in 2019 and .224 mark in 2018, suggest his success won’t continue at the same rate.

Possible suitors: Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers.

Victor Reyes

Age: 28.

Free agent: After 2023 season.

2020 stats: 30 G, .268 AVG, .333 OBP, .515 SLG, 9 2B, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 7 BB, 34 K.

The buzz: Whether it’s this winter or next, the Tigers are expected to add a corner outfielder — leaving the team with five likely outfield options: a free agent (or trade) addition, Jones, Victor Reyes, prospect Daz Cameron and 2019 No. 5 overall draft pick Riley Greene. Something will have to give.

Reyes can play all three positions, Cameron should make the majors out of spring training and Greene isn’t far away from his big-league arrival. Assuming a new outfielder joins the mix, Jones might be the odd man out. That’s why the Tigers should consider dumping him now.

Possible suitors: Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros.

Jose Cisnero

Age: 31.

Free agent: After 2023 season.

2020 stats: 3-3, 3.03 ERA, 29 G, 29⅔ IP, 23 H, 10 ER, 1 HR, 10 BB, 34 K, 1.112 WHIP.

The buzz: Cisnero is the blueprint of a reclamation project. He pitched for the Houston Astros for 28 games in 2013 and five games in 2014 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, which led to a five-year hiatus from the majors. He returned in 2019 with the Tigers for 35 games before experiencing a career-year as a 31-year-old last season.

Because of Cisnero’s age, the Tigers can’t bank on him as a long-term bullpen arm. And the team is one or two seasons away from sure-fire playoff contention, so they should put the veteran on the trade block. Teams with win-now talent might deliver a strong return for his short-term services.

Possible suitors: Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

 

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