Blue Jays could look to the Tigers for an infield solution

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 22: Ian Kinsler /

The Blue Jays will likely look to shore up their middle infield depth this offseason, and the Detroit Tigers may line up as a good trade partner.

The Blue Jays need to target some middle infield help this offseason. We’ve talked about it a lot already since the season concluded for the Jays, but that’s because it’s an important need that should be addressed before Opening Day next year. With Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki both battling health issues throughout last season and much of their respective careers, the depth will go a long way to helping the team compete in 2018.

Ideally the Blue Jays will add someone who can play both shortstop and second base, and if things go really well then that player will be able to add something at the plate as well. It’s easier said than done, but there will be some options available in free agency, and also on the trade market.

One of the potential trade options could come from a team that also disappointed in 2017, much like the Blue Jays did with their veteran roster. The Detroit Tigers had a veteran roster that was supposed to compete for a playoff spot in 2017, but instead they finished last in the AL Central with just 64 wins. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong, did for Brad Ausmus‘ club, who has since relieved him of his managerial duties in Detroit.

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The Tigers also started their rebuild at the trade deadlines this year, shipping out stars like J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, long time ace, Justin Verlander and more. Those aren’t the kind of moves that team makes if they plan on competing the following year, and we’re likely looking at the start of a significant rebuild in Detroit after many years of having a competitive roster built around Miguel Cabrera. Unfortunately Cabrera took a major step back much like the rest of the roster, and the Tigers are left looking at the long term future rather than at next season.

As a result, there’s a very good chance the Tigers will look to continue to offload their veteran contracts, and that’s where things could get interesting for the Blue Jays. While Cabrera’s contract is pretty much unmovable at this point, there are other veterans on the roster who could fit in John Gibbons‘ lineup, such as second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Admittedly, the idea was tweeted at me from another website called, and while I do think the Blue Jays would benefit from getting younger, I don’t hate this idea at all. Kinsler has one year remaining on his contract at a cost of 11 million, which is very reasonable for an All-Star calibre player in the MLB these days. Yes, he’s 35 years old, but he showed he’s got enough left in the tank to make a significant contribution, especially with just a year remaining on his contract.

The four time All-Star hit .236/.313/.412 in 2017, and added 22 home runs and 52 RBI in 139 games played, finishing with a bWAR of 2.1. His batting average wasn’t quite where he’s performed throughout his career, but he’s still showing plenty of pop, as well as some above average defence at second base, where he finished with a 1.0 dWAR mark.

He’s not a perfect fit, as he’s never played a game at shortstop in his big league career, and he’s also another aging veteran, which would seem to go against what the Blue Jays are hoping to accomplish this offseason. However, he fits the mold in a few other ways and could be a solid addition that likely won’t cost a great deal as a trade acquisition. He’s got plenty of leadoff experience, and despite a career low batting average, he still managed to get on base at a .313 clip. That’s not where it needs to be as a leadoff hitter, but it shows he’s still able to work pitchers for a walk, and with a correction in his batting average (he’s a career .273 hitter), his numbers would be a welcome addition in Toronto’s lineup.

Of course, the Jays would have to find room for both him and Devon Travis in the lineup when the latter is healthy, but that’s a good type of problem to have. With just one year remaining on Kinsler’s deal, he could serve as a short term solution to shore up the position, and buy the Blue Jays more time to see if they can rely on Travis going forward.

It’s an imperfect solution, but one that could make sense as the offseason wears on. It won’t be surprising at all if the Tigers decide to shop Kinsler, and if they do, the Blue Jays should at least make a phone call to see what the cost might be. Chances are, it’ll be the type of bargain that could make a lot of sense, that is, if the team really does intend to compete in 2018.

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