Its not too early to look at what the Tigers could potentially do at the trade deadline in July. Last year Dave Dombrowski pulled off a great trade for the Tigers and acquired starting pitch Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante from the Miami Marlins. That trade filled a glaring hole at second base and added needed depth in the starting rotation.
The Detroit Tigers came into the 2013 season with seemingly few holes, but did have one noticeable hole- who would be the closer? A great lineup led by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder accompanied a great starting rotation led by Justin Verlander, but the bullpen was and is still a question. Bruce Rondon came into spring training as the favorite to be the opening day closer but Rondon struggled and eventually was sent down to Toledo.
Enter Jose Valverde, the much maligned closer who was terrible in the postseason, found his way back to Detroit much to the chagrin of many fans. Valverde started strong, but that has quickly faded away. Valverde has seemingly gone back to his late 2012 self, walking batters, giving up hit after hit, and the untimely home run to cap it all off. After the 3 game series in KC, its clear that the Big Potato is not the answer. Valverde came into the 2nd game of the series, leading 3-2, to close out the victory for the Tigers, after a leadoff single and a stolen base it looked like Valverde would blow another save opportunity. Valverde ended up getting the save, but Valverde came in the next day after a gem by Justin Verlander with a 3-1 lead and gave up a 2 run game tying home run, blowing the save and the victory for the Tigers and Verlander.
Its been no secret as of late that the Tigers have been looking for a closer. They have been reportedly scouting Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, but with his massive contract and the amount of high value prospects it would take to complete the trade, the Tigers more than likely won’t be pulling this one off. Other potential trade candidates include: John Axford, Glenn Perkins, and maybe Kevin Gregg of the Chicago Cubs. Axford has struggled this year, but does have closer experience, Gregg has been perfect in save situations this season going 9-9 while posting a 0.83 ERA. Perkins would probably be the least likely trade acquisition because of the fact that he plays for the Twins who are in the AL central with the Tigers. There are other potential positions the Tigers could target before the trade deadline passes in late July: Left Field, Catcher, Bullpen Help. The picture will become more clear in the next few weeks when potential buyers and sellers become more clear.