The MLB rumors figure to be swirling around the Detroit Tigers in the coming weeks as the non-waiver trading deadline approaches on July 31st. The Tigers need help in the starting rotation and at second base. The Houston Astros might just be the one-stop shop for everything that ails the Tigers right now. Second baseman Jed Lowrie and left-handed starter Wandy Rodriguez could both be had in the right deal.
Second base is an offensive graveyard for the Tigers. Tigers second basemen are combining to hit below .200 with only 2 home runs and a paltry 22 RBI. That is not going to get it done, especially for a team that entered this season with such high hopes. Adding Jed Lowrie will instantly upgrade the position while making Detroit’s lineup that much deeper. Lowrie is currently hitting .256 with 14 homers and 35 RBI in 270 at-bats. While Lowrie does have some health issues, he is still an instant upgrade over anything the Tigers have fielded this season at second. However, Lowire is the best middle infielder that is currently on the market.
Another deficiency for the Tigers this season has been their starting rotation. Behind Justin Verlander there just isn’t the depth that a pennant-contending team would need. Doug Fister can’t stay healthy enough to be counted on down the stretch. Rick Porcello is still a work in progress and is very inconsistent. Max Scherzer and Drew Smyly are in the same boat as Porcello. That is hardly what you want to see for a team expected to contend for a title this season after adding Prince Fielder via free agency.
Adding Wandy Rodriguez gives Detroit an instant number two starter behind Verlander. Given the investment the Tigers have made in this ballclub, I would be shocked if they drew the financial line at Wandy’s contract. In fact, the Tigers should be able to keep prized third base prospect Nick Castellanos if they agree to pick up the tab on Rodriguez’s contract. A package of decent prospects around top pitching prospect Jacob Turner and a willingness to take back Wandy Rodriguez’s contract might be enough to get it done.
The Astros need to free their payroll and if they have to package Lowrie in with Rodriguez while getting a top pitching prospect back in return then so be it. The market for Wandy might be thinning out as we speak. The New York Yankees, who showed interest last year but balked at taking on his contract without the Astros assuming a large portion of it, will probably not be interested. The Boston Red Sox need pitching but they might be selling at the deadline. The St. Louis Cardinals remain a slight possibility if they are willing to add the payroll but that is still a question mark at this time. The Baltimore Orioles make sense as they are in desperate need of pitching help and everyday they see the gap between themselves and their first playoff appearance since 1997 widen.
The Tigers best deal is sitting in Houston at the current moment. Sure, they could call other clubs like the Chicago Cubs and ask about the availability of starters Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza and second baseman Darwin Barney. However, no other deal would make as much sense as getting Lowrie and Rodriguez from the Astros. This is a deal the Tigers need to make to push themselves towards the playoffs.