With all their offseason moves, the Detroit Tigers added depth when it comes to top-tier prospects in 2014, and they should consider trading one or two of them to get bullpen help now. Drew Smyly was the Tigers’ best left-handed reliever last season, but he’s a starter now so they don’t have the option of using him out of the bullpen.
Nick Castellanos isn’t really considered a prospect anymore, and they lost their best pitching prospect in Jose Alvarez to acquire Andrew Romine from the Los Angeles Angels. But they’ve set themselves up with a handful of position players who could be enticing to teams with a specific need.
The Tigers only have two left-handed relievers in the bullpen — Ian Krol and Phil Coke. The latter of those two isn’t going to cut it, and they are going to have to replace him with someone who at least inspires some hope.
The Tigers received left-handed pitcher Robbie Ray in the trade with the Washington Nationals, but the expectation is for him become a starting pitcher down the road so it seems like a bad idea to change that. Some people have mentioned a promotion from the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens to the Tigers’ bullpen, but he could do the Tigers a lot of good in the future as a starter.
The Tigers have a couple promising young outfielders who could be valuable trade pieces. Ezequiel Carrera was on the cusp of making the Tigers’ roster after the injury to Andy Dirks, but Tyler Collins did just enough to edge him out for the spot. Neither of them would have made the team if it weren’t for the injury to Dirks, and they should consider using Carrera in a trade. J.D. Martinez and Ben Guez are also possibilities.
The Tigers don’t really have a place for second baseman Hernan Perez either. Perez filled in for Omar Infante while he was injured in 2013, but Ian Kinsler‘s addition makes him expendable.
There also might be suitors for first baseman Jordan Lennerton. His position is occupied by Miguel Cabrera for a long time to come, and they could afford to give up the steady corner infielder.
While they have all of these position players who could eventually end up with steady jobs in MLB, the Tigers need a left-handed reliever who is ready to pitch in the big leagues now. Left-handed pitching can demand more in a trade, so it might cost them, but they’re already missing Bruce Rondon this season, who they were planning on being their everyday setup man. They’re going to need one more reliever they are confident in if they’re going to win another AL Central crown.