Are the sell-happy Cubs a perfect fit for the injury-sad Tigers? Well, maybe in one spot, at least.
The Tigers, who lose Jose Iglesias for the year, have very likely picked up their shortstop fill-in after trading a decent young arm (Jose Alvarez) for Austin Romine, a glove-heavy shortstop formerly with the Angels. I can’t help but wonder if the Tigers were looking to deal someone like Alvarez (a 24-year-old lefty who could maybe be a 5th starter, but likely a middle reliever) for a fill-in, and they were going to take what they could get.It probably wouldn’t have been enough for Darwin Barney (or at least not enough to make the Cubs pull the trigger), so that may have ended talks early, despite recent rumors.
Interestingly, the same day, the Tigers lost setup man Bruce Rondon to Tommy John surgery, so they could now also be in the market for another relief arm. The primary one the Cubs have to peddle is James Russell, but the Tigers look pretty set on lefties. What they need is a righty power arm, probably, and, although the Cubs have plenty, I don’t think the Cubs have any clearly-established and reliable ones (the only kind the Tigers would want) they’d want to move right now. We’ll see if something shakes out.
The Tigers have yet to pick up an outfielder to replace Andy Dirks, who’ll miss much of the season with a back issue. And, on that point, Jon Heyman is pushing hard for the Tigers to make a move for Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz. A scout tells Heyman that “Schierholtz fits the Tigers perfectly,” which is undoubtedly true, given their need for a lefty corner outfield bat. Schierholtz brings pop, good defense, and a short-term, inexpensive contract ($5 million for this year).
From the Cubs’ perspective, it might be hard to surrender one of the few reliable bats in the lineup just before the season starts, but with another season that looks to be about accumulating young assets, the Cubs are probably willing to take the right deal for Schierholtz whenever it comes up (query whether they can get a better deal by waiting until the deadline, though). Further, although I don’t think any of the fill-ins would totally replace Schierholtz’s production, the Cubs do have other interesting outfielders to slide into the regular rotation (including Ryan Kalish).
If the Tigers were willing to give up a quality pitching prospect or two, the Cubs may have to consider making a move. Of course, it’s really just a matter of how desperate the Tigers are right now.