Publicly, the Detroit Tigers might be telling reporters that they’re willing to fill the fifth spot in their starting rotation from within. Or perhaps sign a lower-tier free agent to a one-year deal and use him as a swingman between the rotation and bullpen.
Privately, however, the Tigers’ actions speak otherwise. Though they’re now out of the running for Mark Buehrle, it’s pretty clear that Detroit was interested in signing him at the right price.
Late Tuesday night, trade rumors attached the Tigers to another left-handed starting pitcher, though one who’s younger and throws harder. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle talked to multiple sources with the Tigers who told her that the team was interested in Oakland Athletics left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
Last season, Gonzalez finished with a 16-12 record and 3.12 ERA in 202 innings for the Athletics. He struck out 197 batters, while walking 91. A left-hander with strikeout stuff who can also pitch a lot of innings is pretty much exactly what the Tigers would like to add to their rotation.
In addition, Gonzalez isn’t eligible for arbitration. That would keep him under club control for four years, a luxury that any team would have to pay highly for. (Why four instead of three? The A’s called Gonzalez up after June in 2008. He was recalled in August, to be exact.)
Look at how much the Tigers had to give up for Doug Fister. Being under club control until 2015 had a lot to do with that.
Furthermore, Slusser was told that Detroit would be willing to include top pitching prospect Jacob Turner in a deal. It would take much more to get Gonzalez from the A’s, however. The New York Yankees appear to be in a stronger position to make a trade with better pitching prospects to offer. For the Tigers to compete, they would likely have to include a major league player such as outfielder Brennan Boesch.
A’s GM Billy Beane might even push for third base prospect Nick Castellanos to be included in a trade for Gonzalez. In fact, Castellanos could be the player Beane insists on. According to the Detroit News’ Lynn Henning, that would be a deal-breaker for the Tigers.