Jeimer Candelario, trade chip? A look at why it might be a prudent move for Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — Here’s a topic to chew on: Should the Tigers be receptive to trade offers for Jeimer Candelario before the July 30 deadline?

Some ground rules before we go further with this discussion:

While the Tigers have taken some exploratory calls on Candelario from other teams — they have taken cursory calls on several players — he is not being actively shopped. Nor is he untouchable. In fact, you can probably count on one hand the number of players on the Tigers’ 40-man roster who are untouchable.

Jeimer Candelario has value for several reasons.

You might only need three fingers, maybe four.

The likelihood of Candelario being traded this month is slim, though there are more teams looking for deadline help than there are teams in full sell mode. And frankly, at third and first base, there are more glamorous (and expensive) names available — Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, to name just two.

Truth is, the Tigers player most likely to be moved at the deadline is Jonathan Schoop, who could help a team at three positions — first, second and third. And, unlike Candelario, Schoop is playing on an expiring contract.

So why are we talking about the possibility of trading Candelario? Several reasons, not the least of which is he might bring a decent return.

More: 'Unheralded hero': Tigers finally giving Tyler Alexander a shot to win rotation spot

He is 27 and eligible for arbitration after this season. Most likely, it’s going to cost some $13 million to sign him over the next two years. Does he project to bring that much value back? Sounds harsh, but it’s a legitimate question that general manager Al Avila and his staff will be debating, if not now, then certainly this offseason.

The Tigers cut ties with catcher James McCann in similar, though not identical, circumstances before the 2019 season, without getting anything in return. The Tampa Bay Rays just moved shortstop Willy Adames — who is two years younger than Candelario but on the same arbitration schedule — because of future financial concerns.

Unlike the Rays, though, the Tigers don’t have a ready-to-step-in prospect at third base. Spencer Torkelson will likely be here at some point in 2022, but he’s coming as a first baseman first. If the Tigers trade Candelario, rookie Isaac Paredes would probably take over at third on a more regular basis. But the jury is still out on whether he will produce enough offensively to be the long-term answer there.

Or, if Schoop isn’t traded, he could move over to third and the Tigers could keep rotating Paredes, Harold Castro and maybe eventually prospect Kody Clemens at second.

Not having a better solution immediately available is certainly an argument against trading Candelario, albeit a short-sighted one. Especially if the club determines that it’s unwise to commit the $13 million over two years to him going forward.

It’s a tough call, trade or no trade. The question of whether Candelario is a foundation piece going forward is still unanswered. Which, six seasons in, may be an answer in itself.   

More than 400 games and 1,700 plate appearances into his big-league career and Candelario’s offensive and defensive profiles are probably set. He’s going to hit between .240 and .270, keep a respectable on-base average, drive the occasional gap but, depending on what ballpark he calls home, not hit much more than 15 home runs a year.

Defensively, he’s a steady-to-plus defender at third and can also play first base.

In terms of his make-up, there is a lot to like. He’s a warrior. He shows up to play every day. Nobody outworks him. He’s a solid presence in the clubhouse. He would be an asset to a contending team this year and has a lot of good baseball left in him going forward.

That’s what ups the value of his return on trade.

That and the fact that he’s still under team control through 2024.

There are teams that will pay more for that type of player than a two-month rental player. With Candelario, the Tigers would be negotiating more from a position of power. They don’t have to trade him and they won’t trade him unless they get at least equal value back.

This is very different than when they were peddling (dumping) expiring contracts in the past (J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, etc.).

To be clear, and to be fair to Candelario and his family, this is just a trade discussion, an examination of pros and cons. Nobody is campaigning for him to be traded. Nobody is suggesting that he’s not an integral part of this team right now. He doesn’t need to contact his agent or start packing his bags.

This could go in a completely different direction.  

Another option, if the Tigers can’t flip him for real value, is one the club hasn’t pursued much (re: Nick Castellanos). If $13 million over two years is deemed to be steep, they could try to negotiate a two- or three-year extension at a lesser annual salary. Say two years, $10 million, club option for a third year.

Candelario at $5 million per year looks more palatable than at $6 million and $7 million.  

But that’s not the purpose of this exercise. The topic question was, should the Tigers be receptive to trade offers for Candelario before the July 30 deadline?

The answer here is yes.

Rogers goes on IL

The Tigers not only scratched catcher Jake Rogers from the starting lineup before the game Monday, they immediately placed him on the injured list. 

Rogers was expected to catch Casey Mize for the 12th time this season, but he felt soreness in his right arm warming up more than an hour before the game. 

The Tigers moved fast, putting Rogers on IL and calling up Grayson Greiner from Triple-A Toledo. Greiner played in 14 games with the Tigers earlier this season before injuring his hamstring. 

He was hitting .203 at Toledo. 

Rogers, who has been a big part of the Tigers' resurgence since May 8, is the fourth player to go down this month, joining Niko Goodrum, Jose Urena and Daz Cameron.

Madden signs

The Tigers signed right-handed pitcher Ty Madden, the 32nd overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft.

Madden was 7-5 with a 2.45 ERA as a red-shirt sophomore at Texas, striking out 137 while walking 44 in 113.2 innings. He led the Big 12 in strikeouts, innings and average against (.188). The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder finished his collegiate career with two appearances against eventual College World Series champion Mississippi State.

At Texas, he was 14-6 with a 2.59 ERA and 200 strikeouts in 181 innings.

He was ranked the No. 9 MLB Draft prospect by MLB Pipeline, but fell to the Tigers at 32, after the Tigers had taken right-hander Jackson Jobe (ranked seventh) with the No. 3 overall pick.


On deck: Rangers 

►First pitch: 7:10 p.m.

►TV/Radio: BSD, 97.1

Scouting report

►RHP Dane Dunning (3-6, 4.22), Rangers: He was very stingy against the Tigers in Arlington on July 6, allowing only a solo home run to Robbie Grossman in five innings. He threw 63% sinkers that night with a velocity range of 89-92 mph and generated four swings and misses and 16 called strikes.

►LHP Tarik Skubal (5-8, 4.38), Tigers: When he’s had command of his elite fastball, his secondary pitches have done serious work. Opponents are hitting .187 with a 38% whiff rate on his slider, .184 with a 48% whiff rate on his change-up and .179 with a 26% whiff rate on his curve.

— Chris McCosky