Another day brings another round of trade rumors pertaining to the Detroit Tigers and their quest for additions, specifically to an often shaky bullpen.
Lately, though, while the team remains interested in names such as Joaquin Benoit and Joakim Soria, they seem to be shifting thoughts to another National League team who might have some different arms to offer.
The Philadelphia Phillies are falling further behind in the East Division race. As they do, their plethora of capable bullpen arms might become available. Monday reports from Fox Sports' Jon Morosi had the Tigers keeping tabs on lefty Antonio Bastardo in addition to closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports took things a step further, suggesting that the Phillies and Tigers should hook up for a trade involving Jimmy Rollins and Papelbon, with both going to Detroit with cash for prospects. The move, Heyman notes, would allow the Tigers to fix both their bullpen and add a left handed hitter to a periodically inconsistent lineup at the same time.
While Detroit may no longer need Rollins as bad as they did in April or May, a deal centered around both Bastardo and Papelbon might be a more ideal move for the team. Getting Bastardo, a lefty, would help the Tigers balance late in games, especially with Phil Coke and Ian Krol inconsistent. Papelbon, while expensive, could be an ideal partner for Joe Nathan, offering him a rest when necessary and adding some pop late in the game.
If the move happened, the Tigers could trot out some combination of Al Alburquerque, Bastardo, Joba Chamberlain, Papelbon and Nathan in innings seven through nine. Suddenly, a bullpen which lacked depth would have plenty of big-armed bite from both sides to help put away games.
The decision on whether or not the Tigers should add offense remains a complected question. Detroit could probably stand to gain from finding another left-handed bat (hello Domonic Brown, a disgruntled member of the Phillies?), but the need for arms is probably slightly greater for the team at this point in time.
Quietly, the Phillies have some of the more intriguing arms to offer the market. If the price is right, Papelbon makes more sense for Detroit now than in 2013, and Bastardo could end up being an underrated addition that comes up biggest.
While teams such as the Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres continue to get the most play, the Phillies have to decide if they're open for business. If Ruben Amaro Jr. decides to make his assets available, the Tigers should–and likely would—be one of the first teams on the phone.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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Tags: Antonio Bastardo, Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Joakim Soria, Joaquin Benoit, Jonathan Papelbon, MLB, Philadelphia Phillies