The All-Star Break has come to a close, with the Detroit Tigers finishing the first half at an underwhelming 37-55. A magnitude of injuries to pitchers plus one of the worst offenses in baseball have propelled the Tigers to the sixth-worst record in the league. As the Trade Deadline approaches, the Tigers have a few courses of action they could take: buying for the future, selling off the few tradeable pieces they have, or standing firm. Here are six players that general manager Al Avila and the Tigers could look to acquire before August 2.
Ian Happ, OF, Chicago Cubs
If the Tigers’ front office sees this year as a fluke, Happ would be a prime target to bounce back in 2023. The Tigers and the Cubs have a recent history of linking up for Trade Deadline deals, such as Justin Wilson, Alex Avila, and Nick Castellanos. Happ won’t be a free agent until 2024. The outfielder made his first All-Star team this year at 28, posting a career-low 21.5 K%, with a 126 wRC+ and 2.2 fWAR. A couple of middle-of-the-pack prospects such as Parker Meadows and Ryan Kreidler might be enough to get the job done.
Tyler Mahle, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Another 2024 free agent, Mahle has been a bit unlucky this year, evidenced by his contrasting 4.48 ERA and 3.30 xERA. The 27-year-old right-hander has thrown 98 1/3 innings while lowering his HR/9 to 1.1 and dealt with a shoulder strain earlier this month. If Detroit trades for him, he would eat innings this year and be a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter next season. Some lower-end prospects like Keider Montero and Andre Lipcius along with major league outfielders Victor Reyes or Derek Hill would entice Cincinnati.
Joey Gallo, OF, New York Yankees
Gallo would be a reclamation project should Detroit take a chance at revival, as he’s greatly disappointed the Yankees. His .162 batting average and .625 OPS both represent career lows through 222 at-bats, with boos raining down in Yankee Stadium. It won’t take much to pry Gallo away from the Bronx, so a few decent minor leaguers should do it. But, if he returns to his 40+ home run potential, Gallo would be a power hitter desperately needed on the Tigers.
Casey Schmitt, 3B/SS, San Francisco Giants
Detroit’s farm system is bare of promising third basemen. Schmitt, 23, was the Giants‘ second-round pick in 2022 and has the potential to change that. His versatility was increased by playing some shortstop at High-A, while hitting .269 with 15 home runs and a .827 OPS. In a good NL West, any of the Tigers’ standout relievers would be trade bait for the Giants, such as Andrew Chafin, Michael Fulmer, and Joe Jimenez. Schmitt would immediately become the Tigers’ highest-rated third base prospect.
Luis Gil, RHP, New York Yankees
While currently in Triple-A, Gil has 33 1/3 innings of big league experience under his belt. Because of the Yankees’ overabundance in pitching, the Tigers could pry away the former top prospect. The 24-year-old righty has showcased big strikeout potential, averaging 12.0 K/9 in the minors. On the other hand, his 5.4 BB/9 shows much to be desired in command. Gil’s stuff appears major-league caliber though, led by a high 90s fastball with lots of life. This trade would require superior pieces than seen above, such as Austin Meadows and a higher-ranked prospect like Ty Madden.
Nick Nastrini, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Should the Dodgers decide to beef up their bullpen before the postseason, a trade with Detroit would make sense. Giving Chafin, Fulmer, or Gregory Soto in return, the Tigers could get the 2021 4th-round pick Nastrini. He’s proven the ability to limit hits and strike out a ton of hitters (15.4 K/9) in the minors. Four pitches grade out as potential pluses, yet overall are held back by a lack of command (4.6 BB/9). Now at High-A, Nastrini would make up a quality return for any of the Tigers’ dominant relievers.
While the Tigers might wait out the Trade Deadline in preparation for next offseason, they’ll look at different options. Next year, injured starting pitching will return, and proven veteran bats will come back to career norms. 2023 could finally see progress made by Detroit in their elongated rebuild.
Ian Happ, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila, Nick Castellanos, Parker Meadows, Ryan Kreidler, Tyler Mahle, Keider Montero, Andre Lipcius, Victor Reyes, Derek Hill, Joey Gallo, Casey Schmitt, Andrew Chafin, Michael Fulmer, Joe Jimenez, Luis Gil, Austin Meadows, Ty Madden, Nick Nastrini, Gregory Soto