In the pantheon of rumors that have been expected for some time, this one is right up there. The team, the players, the availability, and the need all make sense.
Bruce Levine reports that the Tigers have had VP of Player Personnel Scott Reid checking out both Nate Schierholtz and Darwin Barney in the last week, presumably as they make plans to deal with injuries to outfielder Andy Dirks and shortstop Jose Iglesias. The two Cubs players have actually connected to the Tigers in recent weeks (Schierholtz in a rumor from Jon Morosi, Barney in speculation from, well, lots of folks). Further, Barney has been playing some shortstop in Starlin Castro’s absence, and the Cubs could theoretically replace Schierholtz in the outfield rotation with someone like Ryan Kalish.
The main holdup in a deal like this, of course, is the timing: it’s hard to put together big deals in late Spring Training. Teams have budgets in place, and want to preserve some midseason flexibility. Teams are also generally unwilling to disrupt the clubhouse too dramatically this close to the start of the season. All in all, I’m not sure I see a deal involving both Schierholtz and Barney coming together at this time. But apparently the Tigers are at least willing to consider the possibility.
Don’t get your hopes too high about the return, though. Yes, Schierholtz and Barney offer genuine value (neither is very expensive, to boot), but they are short-term fill-in piece, at least from the Tigers’ perspective. They aren’t going to dent their current team – think Rick Porcello or Drew Smyly (with Anibal Sanchez potentially having a shoulder issue, neither Porcello nor Smyly can be considered surplus at this point) – to pick up some patches in other areas. Instead, the return would likely be a mix of prospects, presumably with a focus on upper level minor league arms.
But, of course, that probably gets way ahead of ourselves. We’ll see if the chatter increases from here, and I do think the Tigers will end up doing something. There are other options out there, of course.