clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Oakland A’s 2018 Trade Partner: Detroit Tigers

The A’s former playoff enemy is well into their rebuild and has a few players on the block that could really make an impact.

Detroit Tigers v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

After a solid competitive stretch that peaked with a World Series appearance in 2012, the Detroit Tigers are now deep into a much needed rebuild. Having traded ace and franchise great Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros last August, the Tigers are open for business once more this deadline, and they have quite a few attractive pieces (though they all have their warts). These two teams seem almost destined to make a deal in the next few days.

*** More trade targets: Twins | Blue Jays | Mets | Marlins ***

Jordan Zimmermann, SP

Once an ace for the Washington Nationals, Jordan Zimmermann is enjoying a huge bounceback year in Detroit. He has posted a 3.97 ERA (3.69 FIP) for the season with very strong peripherals to support it. He has posted the second best swinging strike rate of his career and if you can look past his rough April, he has been absolutely phenomenal (2.81 ERA, 3.33 FIP in seven starts since May 5th). The 32 year-old veteran seems like the perfect addition to a young, struggling Oakland rotation.

The problem is, everything else. Zimmermann has made only 13 starts this year due to a shoulder injury. His contract is also a big obstacle - he has a full no-trade clause and is owed approximately $8.3 million for the remainder of the season, followed by $25 million each of the next two seasons. As tiny as the A’s current payroll is, that’s just not a salary they can take on.

Zimmermann would be a great veteran addition with postseason experience who has pitched like a bona fide ace. But there are so many “ifs” involved: “if” he’ll waive his no-trade clause; “if” Oakland will take on any money; “if” Detroit will eat enough money, “if” his bounceback is for real. A deal for Zimmermann would be incredibly complicated. My best guess would be a mid-range prospect like Tyler Ramirez or Logan Shore for Zimmermann and $30 million - $4 million this season and $13 million each of the next two, bringing his annual cost for those years down to $12 million. But Detroit could stand firm and ask for a better prospect in exchange for all of that money.

Mike Fiers, SP

Per Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the A’s have shown interest in righty Mike Fiers, and for good reason. The former Houston Astro and Milwaukee Brewer has posted a 3.54 ERA over 20 starts this season, and the 33 year old is under team control through 2019 as well.

The warts here are Fiers’ peripherals. He has posted a career low 6.62 K/9, leading to a 4.71 FIP. His strand rate is high and his BABIP is low. Fiers seems to be a big regression candidate, and buying too heavily into his attractive ERA could be a huge mistake.

That being said, there are definitely reasons for optimism with Fiers. A fly ball pitcher, he has been much more successful at spacious Comerica Park (2.85 ERA, 4.22 FIP). In an even more pitcher-friendly park in Oakland (as well as other spacious parks like Seattle and Anaheim) Fiers could continue to thrive. SIERA is also a bit kinder to Fiers, giving him a 4.54 mark overall. There is also the possibility that, with his former catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Fiers’ strikeout rate could tick back up.

Sean Manaea has a similar ERA/FIP gap as well (3.46 ERA, 4.32 FIP). If you trust Manaea, it’s a bit hypocritical to not trust Fiers as well. And if you don’t trust Manaea, well, there aren’t many pitchers better than him available this deadline. Fiers is owed about $2.1 million going forward. I would expect a similar price here as the Zimmermann deal above, a prospect in the Shore/Ramirez range.

Leonys Martin, OF

On Friday morning, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the A’s have interest in adding another left handed hitting outfielder. I personally like what Nick Martini has to offer (and Matt Joyce, when healthy) and would rather look for a true centerfielder to bump rookie Dustin Fowler back to Triple-A for some seasoning. Leonys Martin could be a perfect fit in that role.

After an atrocious 2017, the 30 year-old is in the midst of a great year. He has posted a career high 99 wRC+ with nine home runs and seven stolen bases. He also has the highest walk rate of his career and grades as solidly above average by both DRS and UZR in center field. Martin is owed less than $1 million going forward and comes with team control through 2019.

Martin’s platoon splits and his ice cold July (21 wRC+) are definitely solid arguments against a trade for the outfielder. But he’s hit well against righties and would give the A’s a true plus defender in center field. Martin could platoon with Mark Canha and provide a second leadoff option against righties if Martini starts to struggle. Martin is affordable and there aren’t many center field options on the market, so he could cost as much as a Sheldon Neuse or a Richie Martin. However, with the extra year of team control, I think I’d pull the trigger.

Francisco Liriano, SP/RP

Francisco Liriano began last season in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation and was traded at the deadline to the Houston Astros. There, he worked exclusively out of the bullpen. In 2018, he has spent the whole season in the Tigers rotation. Could he make a similar transition to the bullpen for the A’s?

I wouldn’t love Liriano as a target for the A’s, largely because he hasn’t pitched with any sort of success since late 2016. He would come cheap, but if the A’s are really looking towards the bottom of the barrel for lefty relief help I would much rather they take a flier on the recently-DFA’d Tyler Lyons. Liriano is a free agent after the season and likely wouldn’t cost much more than a PTBNL and/or cash considerations.

Michael Fulmer, SP

It is highly unlikely that the Tigers trade Michael Fulmer by the end of the day Tuesday, but the A’s have shown interest in the righty, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Fulmer, who is on the disabled list with an oblique strain and will not begin a throwing program until Tuesday, is much more likely to be moved in the offseason.

That being said, he would be a fascinating addition for the A’s. Only 25, Fulmer has big time stuff. His fastball sits at 96 MPH and his slider is sharp. But somehow, even with great stuff, Fulmer has been unable to miss bats. He is a very difficult case where he passes the eye test but has been unable to get results.

Fulmer is Super Two eligible and will hit his first year of arbitration in 2019. He is under team control through the 2022 season. Between his age, team control, and upside, Fulmer would cost a ton - likely more than his results so far suggest that he should. Factor in the injury, and it seems like it would be incredibly difficult for the A’s and Tigers to come to an agreement. I think the starting point for a deal would have to be at least one Top 100 type such as Austin Beck, Lazaro Armenteros or Franklin Barreto, with a handful of other pieces added in as well. This is likely too high of a price to pay for a guy that might not throw in the big leagues again until September, but this could also be the only time the A’s will be able to get Fulmer for anywhere near that cheap.


Factoring in acquisition cost, which of these Tigers targets do you like the most?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Jordan Zimmermann
    (255 votes)
  • 34%
    Mike Fiers
    (477 votes)
  • 8%
    Leonys Martin
    (122 votes)
  • 4%
    Francisco Liriano
    (62 votes)
  • 18%
    Michael Fulmer
    (257 votes)
  • 15%
    None of the above
    (214 votes)
1387 votes total Vote Now