Tigers Acquire Another Jose! Jose Iglesias to be Specific
Last night/early this morning the General Manager Dave Dombrowski and the Detroit Tigers were a part of a monster trade that featured the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox. Just after midnight, the three team trade was announced that sent Jose Iglesias to the Tigers, Jake Peavy and Brayan Villarreal to the Red Sox, and Avisail Garcia, J.B. Wendelken, Francelis Montas, and Cleuluis Rondon to the Red Sox. Iglesias is a 24 year old shortstop who also has experience at third base and second base. With so much uncertainty surrounding the infield for the rest if the year, the Tigers were expected to make a move for another player and Iglesias will provide immediate help as well as the shortstop of the future.
Let me start by acknowledging that losing Avi Garcia is a tough one for me to swallow. I’ve always been a fan of his tools and still expect him to develop into a well above average major league player with the White Sox. Garcia, who was called up before rosters expanded last year, hit .319 in 47 at bats with a .373 OBP in the 2012 season. Garcia did not have an extra base hit until the playoffs lasts year, but showed off his power on a few occasions in his stint with the big club this year. Garcia, who was recalled this year when Austin Jackson went on the disabled list, hit .241 in 83 at bats, but had 3 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs. In Triple A Toledo, Avi was simply tearing it up. In 147 at bats, Avi was hitting .373 with 7 doubles, a triple, and 5 home runs. All of these hitting stats come while also playing stellar defense at both levels with an absolute cannon for an arm. I’m not going to sit here and act like I know everything about Tigers prospects since I mainly follow the big club, but if I had to make a prediction on Garcia’s peak in the MLB, I’d say he’s a .280 avg, 25-30 homers, and 80 RBI’s. That’s tough to give up, but the Tigers don’t need immediate outfield help right now, especially with top prospect Nick Castellanos moving to the outfield. Prospects are currency at the trade deadline, and when you have an immediate need, you’re going to have to lose a player that you may not want to lose. Baseball is a business, people.
The Tigers also lost relief pitcher Brayan Villarreal to the Red Sox. Villarreal is a bit of a confusing case for me. His biggest problem is by far his control. With a four seam fastball that regularly sat at 97 MPH and a devastating slider, Villarreal had a stellar season in 2012. Last year, Villarreal had a 2.63 ERA in 54.2 innings pitched while striking out 66 and walking 28. Brayan was left off of the playoff roster last year due to an increase in his walk rate in August and September which translated to an inflated ERA in those months. This season, Villarreal made the team out of spring training, but his time in Detroit didn’t last long. Brayan only found 4.1 innings of work this year, and to put it nicely, he was terrible. In those 4.1 innings, he gave up 10 runs on 8 hits and 8 walks. After only 7 appearances in Detroit, he was sent to Toledo where he continued to struggle. Being in the minors with his live arm definitely allowed him to be effectively wild, so while his ERA was only at 3.15, he was still walking batters at a 6.8 per 9 innings rate. Bottom line on Villarreal was that he couldn’t locate his pitches this year. He still has a live arm and some promise, but the Red Sox pitching coaches have their work cut out for themselves.
Now let’s talk about the man of the hour, the newest Tiger, Jose Iglesias. Honestly, I love this acquisition for so many reasons. As I mentioned previously, Iglesias is only 24 years old and is under team control till 2018, so while he fills a need now, he’s also the shortstop of the future. With the Biogenesis suspension looming over Jhonny Peralta’s head, the Tigers were going to need a new everyday shortstop sooner or later this year. The idea of using Hernan Perez at shortstop when Omar Infante returned from the DL had popped up along with the idea of either recalling Danny Worth or Argenis Diaz. I was not in favor of any of those options. Perez was my favorite option, but is a natural second baseman. Worth and Diaz would be good defensive options, but they might as well just let Ramon Santiago start instead. The Tigers needed a shortstop, and Dave Dombrowski went out and got his man.
The scouting report on Iglesias is very impressive, and I’m not talking about his hitting. The closest shortstops that Jose has been compared to on defense are Omar Vizquel and Ozzie Smith. Let that sink in for a second. Good? Now if you know anything about either of those former players, you probably know that they are widely regarded as the best defensive shortstops of all time. Now look at Jhonny Peralta’s defense. I’m not going to sugar coat it. While Jhonny makes the easy plays, he has no range and a weak arm. Iglesias makes the routine plays, makes the spectacular plays, and has a spectacular arm. Let’s just say that the Detroit pitchers are going to love having him as a vacuum behind them. This season at the plate Iglesias has completely outperformed posting a .330 average with 10 doubles and a .376 OBP. As much as I would love to see him keep those numbers up, it’s not going to happen. His complete minor league batting average is .257 with a .307 OBP and a .314 SLG. The Boston hitting coaches have done a good job of helping him change his approach this year, but based off of previous success, it doesn’t look like this level of production is sustainable for him. If he can manage to hit .250/.300/.350 (avg/OBP/SLG) with his stellar defense, he will have a spectacular major league career. This is the shortstop of the future folks, he’s going to make plays that Peralta couldn’t make in his dreams. Very excited watch this kid put on the Old English D.