It was a rough season for the Detroit Tigers. The first two months of the season looked like there might be an opportunity to right the ship and turn things around for a second-half push, but a brutal June sent the Tigers spiraling out of control and management eventually decided to throw in the towel to rebuild.
The 64-98 Tigers stumbled into the offseason with a 17-41 finish after Aug. 1, including just six wins in September. The writing was on the wall during a 3-14 stretch in the middle of August and general manager Al Avila decided to ship off the top contributors of the 2017 season in outfielder Justin Upton and perennial All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander. Upton was sent to the LA Angels for a pair of prospects. Verlander was sent the Houston Astros with cash and a minor leaguer for a trio of prospects. After Verlander’s role in the World Series, I’m assuming there’s a gift basket of some variety that will complete the trade. Detroit broke down completely at the end of the season to build for the future.
A major part of the Tigers’ struggles came with the struggles of first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who posted the worst statistical season of his 15-year career. The two-time MVP hit 16 home runs and tallied career lows with a .249 batting average and 60 RBIs.
No single move will pull the Tigers out of the cellar, but patience will pay off in the end.
Despite giving up a pitcher who has been a major cornerstone of the franchise for over a decade, the Tigers made out quite well in the Verlander deal, especially considering how well the Astros have drafted over recent years. The three prospects sent to Detroit were outfielder Daz Cameron, pitcher Franklin Perez and catcher Jake Rogers. Detroit’s top priority should be developing these top prospects.
Cameron is a speedy outfielder who also gives Detroit a solid bat. During his first full season in A-ball, Cameron hit .271, drove in 74 runs and stole 32 bases. However, he is likely a few years away from making his MLB debut as he was drafted in just 2015.
A solid pitching prospect, Perez made the jump from Advanced A to Double-A during the 2017 season and saw no significant drop in production. With a 2.98 ERA in 12 appearances in Advanced A, Perez tallied an ERA of 3.09 in seven appearances in Double-A.
Likely the top prospect of the group, Rogers gives the Tigers a solid starting catcher option for the long run. Rogers spent 2017 split between A and Advanced-A., Rogers is solid defensively, having registered just eight passed balls and throwing out 46 percent of runners in 754.0 innings in 2017. Rogers showed he is above average offensively in 2017, especially for a catcher, with 25 doubles, four triples, 70 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and a .261 batting average. If he can hit major league pitching and manage the pitching staff, Rogers has All-Star potential.
Stripped down to bear bones, the Tigers are a few years away from competing in the American League Central again.
Photo by Brigham Berthold