Detroit Tigers: Is Jose Iglesias SS of Future? Injuries Cast Doubt

Jul 16, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) fouls the ball off in the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 16, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) fouls the ball off in the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

With yet another injury to Jose Iglesias, the Detroit Tigers once again face time without their starting shortstop. What does this mean for his future with the club?

On the eve of the 2013 MLB Trading Deadline, the Detroit Tigers orchestrated a three-team trade, sending Avisail Garcia to the Chicago White Sox, and Brayan Villarreal to the Boston Red Sox. Jake Peavy went to Boston, and exciting rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias came to the Tigers.

The move was two-fold for the then AL Central-leading Tigers. First, it gave them a solid presence at shortstop to cover for Jhonny Peralta, whose biogensis PED suspension was about to commence. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, since the team had no real plans to pay an aging Peralta a high rate, PED or not, they viewed Iglesias as the shortstop of the future. Controlled by the team through at least the 2018 season, this seemed a no-brainer.

Perhaps the only reason the Red Sox dealt Iggy was because they had another hot-shot shortstop in their system in Xander Bogaerts. So the Tigers landed a gem, a player that was a defensive star and was hitting .330 when he arrived in Detroit.

The Future Is Now

More from Detroit Jock City

Despite driving in a run in his first game and hitting a home run in his second, Iglesias’ hitting tailed off in his first year. Nonetheless, the youngster did help his new team fill the hole at shortstop to win their third straight divisional title.

Peralta left for St. Louis as a free agent in the off-season so the club looked for Iglesias’ future to be now. Sadly, he pulled into second base and doubled over in pain in the first 2014 Grapefruit League contest. It turned out he had stress fractures in both shins.

Being overly hopeful, Detroit kept reporting his injury as less serious than it was. At first he was day-to-day, then was going to miss a couple of weeks. Alarm bells soon went off when it became apparent he wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day. By the final week of Spring Training, it was reported he’d miss the entire season.

Searching for a Replacement 

General Manager Dave Dombrowski scrambled to replace him by trading for aging Alex Gonzalez (who was gone before the end of April) and Andrew Romine. The Tigers later called up Eugenio Suarez to add some pop into the lineup in June, receiving mixed results.

Seeming confident that Iglesias was healthy and ready to go for 2015, the club traded Suarez to Cincinnati for Alfredo Simon, which was one of the dumbest trades of Dombrowski’s tenure. Iggy did reward their confidence, however, hitting .300 with a .717 OPS, was named to the All-Star game, and began to form one of the best double-play combos in baseball along with Ian Kinsler.

With Detroit playing out the string in early September, Iglesias was placed on the disabled list for a fracture in his right middle finger and was out for the season. The Tigers said they weren’t going to rush him back to play meaningless games, but who knows if that’s spin and he just wasn’t able to come back.

Injuries ‘R Us

The beginning of last week was rough for the Tigers after being swept in Seattle and receiving news of injury after injury. Nick Castellanos, Jordan Zimmermann, and Cameron Maybin all went on the disabled list within two days, joining Mike Pelfrey. The last thing the Tigers needed was their starting shortstop to once again miss time, but that’s exactly what they got.

Iglesias tweaked his hamstring in Wednesday’s loss to the Mariners and was also placed on the DL. Although Dixon Machado was called up to take his place, it seems Brad Ausmus is allergic to starting young players on a consistent basis. Instead, he insists on trotting out the light-hitting, defensive liability of Mike Aviles for every hole on the diamond. Needless to say, if the Tigers are going to be in the playoff chase, they need more Jose Iglesias and MUCH less Mike Aviles.

Therein lies the problem. Too often when the Tigers have needed him, he’s been injured. Certainly bad luck may have something to do with it. After all, he was struck on the hand with a pitch last year which resulted in the season ending injury. But sometimes guys are just a little more injury-prone than others.

Injuries can be expected from the likes of aging veterans such as Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, but Iglesias is only 26 years old, and his injury history should be considered troubling.

Nagging Questions

What can the Tigers expect from him in his 30’s if they sign him beyond 2018? Can he still be considered the shortstop of the future? Could he be moved in the offseason if the Tigers opt for a youth movement? Is Machado a worthwhile long-term replacement?

Next: Detroit Lions Rookie Stock Report After 1st Preseason Game

These are all questions the Tigers must consider when moving forward. Jose Iglesias is talented and extremely fun to watch at shortstop, but his durability is a very big concern.