Yesterday, it was reported that the Detroit Tigers have targeted Chicago Cubs middle infielder Darwin Barney, as well as the Cubs’ left-handed hitting outfielder Nate Schierholtz. The Tigers see the two players as possible solutions to their left field and shortstop problems, and they could each potentially fit nicely into the Tigers’ 2014 plans.
Barney may not blow people away with his bat, but he is a very solid defender and the Tigers have more than enough thunder in their lineup to carry a light-hitter such as him. Although Barney has mainly played second base for the Cubs, he came up as a shortstop and has an overall fielding percentage of .990 in the major leagues. Barney would be an upgrade over the Tigers’ in-house options as he would likely provide better defense than Danny Worth would, while Hernan Perez and Eugenio Suarez are each hitting .200 in Spring Training and do not appear to be ready to tackle big league pitching as of yet.
Although Barney’s batting average has really tailed off over the past two seasons, he hit as high as .276 back in 2011, so perhaps a change of scenery would be beneficial for him. It is also important to note that Barney does not strike out very frequently, and he has never fanned more than 67 times in a single season. He is very good at putting the ball in play.
The 30-year-old Schierholtz would also be a good fit for the Tigers as he is a left-handed hitter with 20 home run capability. The Tigers are only expected to have two left-handed bats in their everyday lineup against right-handed pitching in Victor Martinez and Alex Avila, and they could certainly use a third. Schierholtz had a breakout season in 2013 as he hit 21 home runs and drove in 68 runs, but prior to last season he never once cracked double-digits in the home run department.
There is still a certain amount of concern that Schierholtz’s 2013 season was a fluke, but nevertheless he has a .265 career batting average and seven years of big league experience. He would give the Tigers a solid option to platoon with Rajai Davis in left field if they decide that Tyler Collins needs a bit more seasoning in the minor leagues.
It remains to be seen what the Cubs will ask in return for Schierholtz and Barney, but the Tigers should not give up too much, especially if the Cubs begin asking about pitching. If the Tigers are only willing to give up enough to acquire one of them, they would be wise to choose Barney. The Tigers’ internal options for left field appear to be more big league worthy than the ones they have for shortstop.