Last week, the Detroit Tigers made another round of roster cuts, and first baseman Jordan Lennerton was among those who were demoted. All winter long, fans speculated about whether or not the 28-year-old Lennerton would finally be able to make the big league club, as he had a solid season for the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens in 2013 and also posted flashy numbers in winter ball this past offseason. However, it now appears that the wait will have to continue for him, as he is slated to begin the season as an insurance policy for the Tigers.
It now seems clear that the Tigers are not willing to give Lennerton a chance to play the outfield and view him as only a first baseman/designated hitter. It also appears that Miguel Cabrera will be cemented at first base, with the possible exception of playing a handful or so games at the hot corner during interleague play. The rookie Nick Castellanos has also been playing exceptionally well this spring, so the possibility of Lennerton playing first and Cabrera shifting back across the diamond to third base full time has little chance of ever becoming a reality.
Cabrera’s contract will expire at the end of the 2015 season, but both sides appear to be very interested in an extension. Based on everything that has been reported, Cabrera may still be playing first base for the Tigers when he is 40 years old.
Victor Martinez‘s contract, however, will expire at the end of the 2014 season, so it is possible that the Tigers will want to keep Lennerton around as a possible replacement for Martinez if he decides to walk at the end of the year. However, it is also very possible that the Tigers and Martinez could hammer out a deal as well. It may be difficult as the Tigers are currently trying to lock up Cabrera as well as Max Scherzer, but perhaps Martinez would be willing to take a pay cut to stay with the Tigers.
If the Tigers do believe that they will be able to retain both Cabrera and Martinez, they may actually be wise to consider trading Lennerton for a player, or a package of players, that they could actually find use for.
Lennerton is originally from British Columbia, and perhaps the nearby Seattle Mariners would be interested in trading for him. The Mariners thought that they would be getting a perennial All-Star in first baseman Justin Smoak when they first acquired him from the Texas Rangers in the Cliff Lee trade back in 2010, but he has since gone on to disappoint. Perhaps the Mariners would be interested in giving Smoak a bit of competition at first base. The Mariners also have a little flexibility with the DH role after failing to re-sign Kendrys Morales as well, so one could see Lennerton as a fit in Seattle.
Moreover, the Tigers currently need a shortstop, and the Mariners have been trying to move Nick Franklin, so maybe there really could be a match there. There were also plenty of trade rumors surrounding Mariners outfielder Dustin Ackley this past offseason, who might also be a player that the Tigers would be interested in as they recently lost Andy Dirks to an injury.
It is very possible that the Tigers could be able to work out a mutually beneficial trade that would bring the type of players to Detroit that the Tigers are currently desperate for and finally give Lennerton a chance to play in the big leagues.