With the trade deadline a mere 11 days away and potential playoff opponents already making significant mores, it’s time the Tigers get to the business of wheeling and dealing. Dave Dombrowski has had a stellar record of making the right mid-summer moves when you consider the relative pittance he’s parted with to gain huge contributors like Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante in the last few seasons. There’s no reason to believe he can’t pull of the same type of deadline heist again this year.
The two most obvious needs that must be addressed this year are the bullpen and a left-handed bat if Detroit wants to clear that final hurdle that has been so elusive over the last 3 seasons. The Angels have taken one option off the board this week when they picked up All-Star close Huston Street from San Diego for a handful of minor league prospects. But the Padres still have pieces to deal including former Tiger (and infamous ALCS goferball sligner) Joaquin Benoit as well as switch-hitting third baseman Chase Headley. Headley has had a rough 2014 until recently showing signs of a possible return to his brilliant 2012 form when he led the NL with 115 RBI and hit 31 HRs. Don’t get me wrong, I like Nick Castellanos for the future, but his youth and current -0.9 WAR suggest he’s not what a championship team needs right now at the hot corner. Headley is a free agent after this season so he’s definitely available and shouldn’t come at much of a price.
To help solve the more pressing, perplexing and seemingly perpetual bullpen issues that have plagued the Tigers since the days of Willie Hernandez and Aurelio “Senor Smoke” Lopez, the Tigers need to go after Texas Rangers closer Joakim Soria. Soria has 16 saves in 17 changes this year and boasts a 2.59 ERA with a minuscule 0.798 WHIP and 42 Ks in 31.1 innings. He’s comfortable in either the closer or setup man role so he can be plugged in wherever Brad Ausmus sees fit (and there are plenty of holes that need plugging).
Now is not the time to worry about the feelings of current closer Joe Nathan who has gotten real old right in from of our eyes, or developing Castellanos. The championship window is closing rapidly on this Tigers team that has been so tantalizingly close to winning it all so many times. It’s time to put up or shut up in the Motor City.