By: Joey Battaino
After Wednesday's 8-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians, the Detroit Tigers find themselves five games out of first place in the American League's Central Division and two games back of a Wild Card spot 72 games into the 2015 season.
With last season's abrupt Division Series dismissal by the Baltimore Orioles fresh on a lot of people's minds, Tigers fans have begun to be quite impatient with the progress, or lack thereof, the team has made under second-year manager Brad Ausmus--begging the question, is it time to move some of the Tigers big-named talent out of town and rebuild the Motor City Kitties?
The two names that draw the most attention for the Tigers are SP David Price and LF Yoenis Cespedes, both unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2015 season. There is no doubt Price that is one of the best pitchers in the game. Unfortunately for the Tigers, that will mean Price will demand a Max Scherzer-sized contract on the open market. If the Tigers elect to trade Price to a contender at the deadline, they will at least be able to replenish their farm system with a prospect or two.
The same goes for Cespedes, who is in his last year of a 4-year, $36M contract purchased by the Tigers when he was acquired from Boston in December of 2014.
The acquisition of Anthony Gose in the off-season gives the Tigers some outfield flexibility, but I am not too sure if having Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose in your every day lineup minus Yoenis Cespedes is the best way for the club to go.
When it comes to how valuable each player is to the Tigers, I call on sabermetrics and baseball's new-wave stat, WAR, or Wins Above Replacement.
According to fangraphs.com, WAR is a single stat complied from numerous stats to summarize a player's total contribution to their team. When gauging WAR, David Price ranks 15th among all major league pitchers with a +2.08, meaning Price's contribution to the Tigers is worth nearly 2.1 more wins per season than if he was not with the Tigers. Yoenis Cespedes' WAR numbers are interesting. Cespedes ranks 32nd in the major leagues in offensive WAR with a +2.2, and ranks 47th in the majors in defensive WAR numbers. Interesting stat for a guy who lead the majors in outfield assists in 2014 with 16. His 47th ranked defensive WAR trails Tigers Ian Kinsler (6th, +1.36 WAR), Jose Iglesias (T-18th, +0.93 WAR), and Andrew Romine (29th, +0.67 WAR).
It would appear that at this point in the season, David Price is much more valuable to a Tigers playoff run, especially with the health of Justin Verlander. Now the question for General Manager Dave Dombrowski is, do you keep Price and take you chances in the off-season or trade him now to at least get something in return? It will all depend on how this two and a half week stretch before the all-star game goes for the Tigers.
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