As the 2014 season continues to progress, it is becoming more and more apparent that the Detroit Tigers could really use a few additional pieces. One of those pieces is another left-handed bat.
Throughout essentially the entire season, switch-hitting Victor Martinez has been the Tigers’ sole threat from the left side of the plate. Alex Avila‘s batting average remains a lowly .216, and Don Kelly and the light-hitting, switch-hitting Andrew Romine fall into the category of quadruple-A players (guys who are a cut above Triple-A, but a grade below MLB.) That is it for Tigers hitters who bat left-handed.
Although the Tigers are hoping to get the left-handed Andy Dirks back around the All-Star break, it is hard to know what to expect from him upon his return. After all, he has been out of action since March and had a rather disappointing season in 2013 after putting together a stellar 2012 campaign. Therefore, the Tigers could use some insurance. One player whose name has been appearing in trade talks recently is the versatile, switch-hitting Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays. He could help the Tigers in a variety of ways.
Zobrist, a two-time All-Star who has reached the 20-home run plateau on three separate occasions, has the ability to play seven different positions. However, the Rays have mainly used him to cover the corner outfield spots, second base and shortstop.
Although the 33-year-old Zobrist is likely on the back nine of his career and is just a lifetime .254 hitter from the left side of the plate compared to .278 right-handed, his left-handed bat would be a significant improvement over both Kelly and Romine nevertheless. In his career, Zobrist has slugged 80 left-handed home runs while Kelly and Romine have hit 23 and one, respectively. Zobrist also has a solid .775 career OPS when batting left-handed.
Zobrist would be a great veteran presence who could bolster the Tigers’ struggling outfield, and he could also spell the rookie Eugenio Suarez at shortstop. Although Suarez has been very impressive thus far, there is a lot of inexperience on the left side of the Tigers’ infield with him and Nick Castellanos. If the Tigers are fortunate enough to be playing in October, a player like Zobrist could sure home in handy. If the Tigers can get him at the right price, he should certainly be on their radar.