Henning: Simon shaping up to be great acquisition

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

Notes, thoughts, items as the Tigers got ready Monday for a three-game set against the tough-times Brewers (13-25) at Comerica Park.

Tigers in potentially great shape with Alfredo Simon.

Some of us thought Simon would have problems moving from the National League to the American League after the Tigers got the 34-year-old right-handed starter in a trade in December with the Reds.

It's common for pitchers to have hassles switching leagues when the American features a designated hitter and a heavy percentage increase in a lineup's overall crunch. Simon, too, had been a reliever until last season, when he had a great first half for the Reds and a not-so-nifty final three months.

This could be the trend this season, as well — a more rugged second half. But if Simon pitches in anything close to the groove shown during his early starts with the Tigers, they can be in slick shape this autumn when Simon becomes a free agent.

They would easily make a qualifying offer ($15.3 million last year and almost certainly a tad higher ahead of 2016) for a single season's access to Simon and his right arm. Simon could decide to take the heavy pay for one year and try free agency ahead of 2017.

If the Tigers make a qualifying offer and Simon signs elsewhere, Detroit picks up a handsome pick likely between the first and second round in next year's draft.

Or, if Simon pitches productively into the season's waning months, the Tigers can always head off free agency, or join the free-agent bidders, with a multi-year offer. This could make sense even though Simon turns 35 in May 2016.

What you see in Simon is what Detroit's scouts saw and passed on to Tigers front-office chief Dave Dombrowski.

Simon can get a team into the game's latter innings. He has power pitches and a splitter that tends to behave. He has enough versatility to throw a 65-mph curveball that simply makes his overall package that much more effective.

In mid-May, it looks as if it was a plus deal for the Tigers. That depends, of course, on how Simon finishes the year. It depends in part on how the freight Detroit shipped to the Reds (Eugenio Suarez and Jonathon Crawford) performs down the line.

And it could depend on whether the Tigers get more than a single season from Simon. Or, on what kind of player the Tigers grab with that potential draft pick should the qualifying offer come through and Simon lands elsewhere.

Jose Iglesias among league leaders in hitting.

Yes, it's a surprise. A mild surprise.

Anyone who studied Iglesias and his professional baseball dossier would have seen that he hit, fairly steadily, from the time he arrived from Cuba in 2010.

His numbers varied, somewhat dramatically, from .231 in 101 games at Triple A Pawtucket in 2011, to .330 in 63 games for the Red Sox in 2013.

He hit .259 in 46 games for the Tigers in 2013 following his arrival by way of a July trade. The statistical reality is that Iglesias had a .274 big league average in 144 games, all accrued when he was 21, 22, and 23.

It didn't mean there were heavy bets on him being the No. 3 hitter in the American League on May 18. But those who perceived him to be an acrobatic defender with a wimpy bat who would perennially be pressed to hit .240 or better were never paying close enough attention to his track record or to his simple, efficient, swing and ability to put wood on a ball.

He'll cool off, almost assuredly. But how much will his average drop? Iglesias clearly has the stuff to hit .300. He smacks the ball regularly and with some starch, and he gets a bushel of leg hits.

That's a guy who isn't hitting .346 by accident. Iglesias has talent. And it's not confined solely to his glove and arm.