There have been various speculations on what positions the Tigers could improve on and who to trade, including trading top prospects Nick Castellanos and Jacob Turner for a superstar. But the one player that has me the most intrigued is Cubs' second baseman Darwin Barney.
First, the offense. The Tigers have the worst offensive production out of the 2B position of any team in MLB, hitting a combined .193/.259/.273 with a .239 wOBA and 43 wRC+. Darwin Barney would be an immediate upgrade, currently hitting .259/.304/.362 with a .295 wOBA and 79 wRC+. But then again, those aren’t spectacular numbers. In fact, those are below average numbers. So why do I like Barney so much?
The defense. Darwin Barney currently leads all second basemen in DRS at 23, while his UZR is a less than impressive 3.2 but still 9th in all of baseball. Whichever one you believe is more accurate, it’s better than what the Tigers are currently running out there and most likely better than any of the other 2B on the trading block. This is very important to a team like the Tigers who have been one of the worst defensive teams in baseball. This would also directly improve the pitching.
The Tigers’starting rotation currently ranks 8th in the AL in ERA at 4.21. However, they rank #1 in FIP, 3.76, #1 in xFIP, 3.66, #2 in SIERA, 3.69 and #3 in tERA, 4.42. The Tigers have a top 3 rotation in the AL according to these stats, but their defense is holding them back. If they can change the negative fielding at 2B with the positive fielding of Darwin Barney, the pitching numbers will be closer to these defense independent pitching stats. It would be a huge boost to the Tigers.
Now, Darwin Barney is a below average hitter, but an above average defender, making him about an average player overall. Those players don’t fetch much in return, which would be good for the Tigers as they will be able to keep their top prospects, but bad for the Cubs as they would want to improve for the future. Therefore, they will most likely want to package Barney with a better player to get a better return of prospects, most likely with Matt Garza.
Matt Garza’s ERA is lower than Max Scherzer’s, Doug Fister’s, Rick Porcello’s and Drew Smyly’s. However, he has the highest FIP of all those players, the 2nd highest tERA after Fister and the 2nd highest SIERA after Porcello. Putting Garza up with the Tigers' defense doesn’t show a noticeable upgrade to whoever he would be replacing. There is a possibility that Fister could see more time on the DL and Smyly’s innings could be limited, so upgrading with another starter wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Tigers to do. However, they don’t have much in trade bait and the possibility of overpaying on someone that may not even be an upgrade is undesirable.
However, if they can get Darwin Barney for a mid-level prospect, they should jump at the opportunity.