On the one hand, Haase broke out in a big way last season. He hit 22 home runs, posted a .459 slugging percentage, and caught Spencer Turnbull’s no-hitter. He looked like a significant piece to the future of the organization.
Yet the other side of his season is likely the reason the Detroit Tigers are moving away from him in the starting lineup.
Tucker Barnhart has been acquired to serve as the everyday catcher. Spencer Torkelson has arrived to man first base. Austin Meadows makes up an outfield that will look even more dangerous when Riley Greene returns from injury. Even Dustin Garneau has earned the backup catching spot after a solid spring.
Haase is positionless in this new-look Tigers team, and it is time for Al Avila to do what he has yet to with players that breakout on the surface but with major concerns in the underlying statistics (*cough* Michael Fulmer *cough*): trade them while they still have perceivable value.
Currently, there are more questions than answers with this potentially competitive team of Detroit Beisbolcats, and Haase could serve to acquire reliable reinforcements in the pitching staff that will be all too necessary with the current glut of injuries and lack of depth. Let’s analyze exactly…
Why the Detroit Tigers should trade Eric Haase and what they could receive.
Eric Haase has always shown a striking resemblance to 2019 Detroit Tigers home run leader Brandon Dixon. From their slash line similarities (.231/.286/.459 vs. .248/.290/.435) to both of their shortcomings on defense. Haase’s strikeout numbers are frankly miserable (31.2% strikeouts), and whiffs constantly (bottom 4% of the league in whiff rate).
Don’t get me wrong, when he hits the ball, he hits it hard, and it goes far, but if he can’t learn to hit a breaking ball (.148 AVG, .295 SLG in 2021), he won’t survive in the MLB. Finally, he is not a plus defender. His framing is bottom of the league and ranked 81st in fielding runs above average by Baseball Prospectus.
Haase may very well be a good bench bat, but frankly, I don’t think he fits in with the Tiger’s future. His value is at its highest now; that’s why they should shop him for an arm. Frankie Montas is still available, and I think that Haase is the perfect player to make a solid trade package for the righty.
Now for starters, this package could definitely be underselling Montas significantly, but it fits the A’s fire sale style and provides them with low-cost lineup filler to allow for the development of Christian Pache, Shea Langliers, or any of their other prospects. For the Tigers, the addition of Montas immediately rounds out the rotation and allows for greater staff flexibility.
The only loss is a bench bat with some pop, but I think there are enough Tigers on the roster that could serve the same role. Kody Clemens is on the verge of breaking out, Ryan Kriedler will soon be knocking on the door to the majors, and once Riley Greene returns, one of the power outfielders (Baddoo, Meadows, Grossman) will see bench time too.
I realize this take puts me directly at odds with Detroit Jock City site co-Expert Tyler Kotila, who believes Haase is key to this team’s success. Still, I would hate to see another Brandon Dixon situation in Detroit. I think it’s time to get that impact arm, and as much as it would hurt to see Haase go, I believe we might see a better value in him traded than as a Tiger.