Overall, the Detroit Tigers made the correct decision by not attempting to acquire San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley this winter. There were just too many variables involved that would have made bringing the switch-hitting slugger to Detroit far too risky.
However, the circumstances could change quite drastically five or six months from now if the Tigers are battling the Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals for the AL Central crown, and if Headley is once again swinging like he did back in 2012.
After finishing the season 16 games out of first place in 2013, the Padres are not expected to challenge the Los Angeles Dodgers for an NL West title in 2014, and Headley is set to become a free agent after the season. Therefore, the Padres will most likely want to acquire a package of talent for Headley this coming summer as they do not have a great chance of re-signing him.
As the 2014 trade deadline approaches, Headley’s name could be creating the same type of buzz that Mark Teixeira‘s was back in 2007 and 2008, and the Tigers may be among the teams that are interested.
There is no question that the Tigers have a tremendous starting rotation and an improved bullpen heading into 2014. However, there has been a lot of talk recently about how the Tigers will have a much less powerful lineup in 2014 and will therefore be playing a little more small ball. While some seem to be rather optimistic about the Tigers’ lineup, others have seemed less enthusiastic.
If it does turn out that the Tigers are not scoring enough runs and could use a little more power, Headley could most certainly help the Tigers out. Although he did regress in 2013, he was injured throughout much of the year. If he is at full strength in 2014, it is not a wild stretch of the imagination to think that he could return to his 2012 form.
Obviously, bringing Headley to Detroit would also be contingent on how well Nick Castellanos plays at third base, which is an issue that remains to be seen. Headley has also logged 196 career games in left field, so he could conceivably play there for the Tigers as well if Andy Dirks continues to struggle. However, it may prove to be difficult to acquire Headley without giving up Castellanos — especially if he starts mashing again.
Many Tigers fans are old enough to remember when the Tigers traded John Smoltz to the Atlanta Braves for Doyle Alexander in 1987, and those who are not old enough to remember it have most certainly heard about it. Although Alexander did not lead the Tigers to their fifth World Series title, he did go 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA for the remainder of the regular season and helped lead the team to a division title.
Smoltz, however, went on to dominate with the Braves for two decades as a starter and later as a closer, and will one day have a plaque in Cooperstown. Tigers fans would certainly not want to see the same thing happen with a position player in Castellanos. Moreover, the Tigers were actually able to keep Alexander for two years after 1987. Headley will become a free agent after the 2014 season, and there is no guarantee that the Tigers would be able to retain him.
However, Tigers fans are aching for their first World Series title in three decades. The Tigers have come so close in recent years, and fans continue to be let down year after year in what is becoming an annual autumn disappointment.
Over the past eight years, the Tigers lost the World Series twice (2006 and 2012), while falling in the ALCS in 2011 and 2013. And who could ever forget the heartbreaking Game 163 against the Minnesota Twins on Oct. 6, 2009? Tigers fans are ready for a World Series title, regardless of the cost.