Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller is a former Tigers pitcher who could return to Detroit in a trade. (Andy King / Getty Images)
Detroit — The Tigers continue to furiously race against the clock, in search of another arm or two ahead of baseball’s 4 p.m. Thursday trade deadline.
And, interestingly, they are open to both starting and relief pitching.
Some of the organization’s blue-chip prospects, or potential tools to make a trade, are at Single A West Michigan, where, according to a source, the Red Sox, Rockies and — this is odd — the Mariners have been regularly scouting players for more than two weeks.
It’s been known that even after the Tigers acquired Joakim Soria from the Rangers last week, they continued to search for some bullpen help. And they’d prefer it to be left-handed, though a right-hander who can get lefties out will do just fine, too.
The Red Sox and Rockies both are thought to be shopping relievers, Boston with lefty — and former Tiger — Andrew Miller and righty Koji Uehara, and Colorado with right-handers Matt Belisle and LaTroy Hawkins.
It’s unclear how the Tigers and Mariners, who still fancy themselves as playoff contenders, would match up, outside of maybe some unforeseen three-team trade.
The Tigers might also have some interest in Rockies left-handed starter Jorge De La Rosa. The Tigers have not ruled out adding a starting pitcher, for a couple reasons. One, adding a starter would, in turn, aid the bullpen, as Drew Smyly could shift back to his relief role. Two, the Tigers figure to lose Max Scherzer to free agency this winter, and they still lack a major league-ready replacement for 2015.
The Red Sox also have a starting pitcher on the block, and a big one — ace lefty Jon Lester, who was pulled from Wednesday’s start in anticipation of a certain trade. But it won’t be to the Tigers, who have no interest in parting with a bundle of prospects for another free agent-to-be.
If the Tigers were to go big — and with general manager Dave Dombrowski, you can’t really rule it out — they’d be more interested in Rays ace David Price, who won’t be a free agent until after next season. But even that’s a stretch, especially now that the Rays have gotten hot.
As for who opposing teams are scouting at West Michigan, 18-year-old shortstop Willy Adames is squarely atop that list, a source said. The Tigers love Adames, but they also have the rare luxury of shortstop depth, with Eugenio Suarez and Jose Iglesias at the major-league level, and Hernan Perez at Triple A, albeit Perez fits much more comfortably at second base.
There are desirable young arms at West Michigan, too, with Buck Farmer — promoted Tuesday night to Double A Erie — and Montreal Robertson, who has touched 99 mph recently. Jonathon Crawford and Kevin Ziomek also have turned the corner, after some pivotal mechanical changes.
West Michigan leads the Midwest League in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, and has allowed the fewest walks, so, naturally, there’s been a lot of attention on that Tigers outpost from opposing organizations.
Lefty starter Robbie Ray (Triple A), second baseman Devon Travis (Double A), outfielder Steven Moya (Double A) and catcher James McCann (Triple A) also are believed to be on the trade-talk radar.