Detroit Tigers 2023: MLB Insiders Are Curious If Pitching-Needy Rivals Will Trade For Ace Eduardo Rodriguez?

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Guardians

Rising after a deflating start, the Detroit Tigers are becoming an MLB curiosity.

Insiders are beginning to wonder: 

  • Can the Tigers get past the .500 mark after a 2-9 launch? 
  • Can their young offensive nucleus continue to make solid contact? 
  • Will first-year general manager Scott Harris dare to trade Eduardo Rodriguez, the staff ace? 

Rodriguez (3-2) has been nearly pin-point perfect the past six starts, accumulating a 0.43 ERA and 41 strikeouts.

The Tigers (17-19), meanwhile, have captured six of their last eight series and enter the weekend matchup against the visiting Seattle Mariners 3.0 games behind the Central Division-leading Minnesota Twins. 

The Tigers, 36 games into the season, are in a pennant chase.


Or are they still in rebuild mode, restocking prospects for the future?

Eduardo Rodriguez Preparing For Red Sox Reunion? 

To remain in contention for the Central title, the Tigers likely will need two consistent, power-hitting corner outfielders, a proven bat and a promising prospect. A Rodriguez trade could potentially land that for them. 

The Tampa Bay Rays, anchored by six top 100 prospects, according to Baseball America, could throw out a tempting package, as the AL East leaders attempt to fill the void left by Jeffrey Springs, who remains on the 60-day IL. 

The Cardinals need at least one ace before their slow start turns into a lost season. They have a glut of outfielders. Any combination of Alec Burleson, Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill and Juan Yepez could be on the move before the trade deadline. Likely sooner. 

How about a Red Sox reunion? Rodriguez departed the BoSox as a free agent in 2021, signing with the Tigers for five years, $77 million. The deal provides the pitcher an out-clause after this season.  

If the Tigers decide to take Rodriguez off the trade market and he decides to return in the offseason, the franchise would be on the hook for a guaranteed $41 million from 2024-26.

Tough choice?  

Tigers GM Scott Harris Needs To Optimize Top Asset 

Following his series-clinching performance Wednesday at the Cleveland Guardians, Rodriguez’s 1.57 ERA stood second in the MLB, trailing only Sonny Gray’s 1.35 ERA. During his six-game streak, Rodriguez has not surrendered more than one earned run. 

And he’s developing a strong catching bond with Jake Rogers. In the four games they served as a battery, Rodriguez has compiled a 0.31 ERA.  

But that opt-out clause? It must concern Harris.

Three of the organization’s top pitching prospects, Tarik Skubel (elbow), Matt Manning (foot) and Casey Mize (elbow), are all shelved, but beginning to work their back. Skubel and Manning could return by early June. Mize may take the mound again in September or next spring.

MLB insiders are curious:

  • With Skubel and Manning on the mend, could the Tigers remain competitive this summer without Rodriguez?
  • Are rotation patchers Joey Wentz and Alex Faedo capable of turning in consistent starts?
  • Can veterans Matthew Boyd and Michael Lorenzen continue to grind out innings? 
  • In the minors, pitching prospect Ty Madden tossed five scoreless innings for the AA Erie Seawolves on Wednesday night. Is he ready?

The Tigers need a productive corner outfielder – or two – to go along with the sudden emergence of infielders Andy Ibanez and Zach McKinstry. 

It could be time for Harris to soon optimize Rodriguez’s value.  

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