Matt Tuiasosopo, a power-hitting infield prospect for the Mariners, could be just what the Tigers are looking for. (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)
The Tigers and Mariners talked hotly and heavily last December about a trade that nearly brought reliever and Trenton native J.J. Putz to Detroit.
The Tigers and Mariners hooked up on a July deal that brought Jarrod Washburn to Detroit for a talented, young left-hander named Mauricio Robles.
Which is why no one should be surprised if there are conversations between Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers president and general manager, and Jack Zduriencik, Seattle's GM, centering on trades involving Curtis Granderson or Edwin Jackson -- or perhaps both.
Seattle wants a left fielder and more power in its lineup. Granderson is a lovely fit.
The Mariners want another front-line starter, and Jackson obviously matches up.
The Tigers would be interested in several of the Mariners' best young craftsmen, beginning with Brandon Morrow, a right-hander with a high-90s fastball who was Seattle's No. 1 draft pick in 2007 and who was high on Detroit's list that year when it selected Andrew Miller with its first-round pick.
It would make sense, as well, if the Tigers were chasing hotshot infield prospect Carlos Triunfel, a 19-year-old who can play shortstop or third base. Triunfel has upper-tier skills, beginning with his glove and extending through a powerful, right-handed bat. He has been regarded as Seattle's top prospect, which is no surprise given his promotion to Double A at 19.
The Tigers also might be discussing Matt Tuiasosopo, 23, another powerful, left-side infielder who can work at shortstop or third base. Tuiasosopo is a right-handed batter, 6-foot-2, 223 pounds, and if that unforgettable name rings a bell, it should: His father, Manu, played football at UCLA; his brothers, Marques and Zach, played football at Washington.
GM may change ways
What isn't known for sure is how many clubs might play poker with Dombrowski with respect to Granderson and Jackson, who rank as the most alluring players the Tigers are considering trading as they plan for the future and a leaner payroll.
Dombrowski's track record is clear. Rather than waiting and hoping for a pot to sweeten, he tends to make trades quickly when he has settled on a satisfactory package.
But the murkiness of the 2009-10 offseason market might have altered his habits.
With most clubs short on cash, trades continue to be the more practical vehicle for clubs as they refurbish for 2010.
The Tigers seem to be waiting along with their cohorts to see who moves first. But, at least with respect to trades, that has never been Dombrowski's way.
With all of baseball aware that the Tigers are in a trade mode, and with two blue chips available in Granderson and Jackson, Dombrowski may well decide to wait until the Cubs, Yankees, Angels, or other bidders have all had a chance.
The Tigers want pitching, for sure, just as they're hoping to solve long-term needs at shortstop and third base.
That's why Morrow, Triunfel, and Tuiasosopo make sense -- if Dombrowski and Zduriencik decide to resume a business that has a track record.
By the numbers: Award voting*
7-8-5 Rick Porcello, rookie of the year (finished 3rd)
1-0-9 Justin Verlander, Cy Young (3rd)
0-0-2 Jim Leyland, manager of the year (6th)
* first-, second- and third-place
Two at a time
The Tigers were last in the majors in doubles. The best and worst:
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Winter league statistics
“It was a good group of guys for the rookie voting and I was honored and proud to be among them. (Andrew) Bailey put together a heck of a season and certainly deserves the award.”
-- Rick Porcello, Tigers pitcher, via e-mail, on finishing third in the AL rookie of the year voting.