What the Yankees Could Use from the Detroit Tigers

Sep 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) rounds third base after hitting a two-run home run during the second inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) rounds third base after hitting a two-run home run during the second inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

According to media reports, the Tigers are eager to replicate what the Yankees did this past season by jump starting a youth-infused rebuild.

Tigers GM Al Avila has publicly stated that no player on his club’s current roster is untouchable, should someone approach him with a speculative trade offer this winter. And while numerous teams have already been linked with the likes of potentially acquiring Miguel Cabrera and/or Justin Verlander, the Yankees should do their due diligence and scan the Tigers’ roster for an upgrade or two.

In no way am I advocating for the Yankees to take on the enormous salaries of aging — yet still highly effective players like Cabrera, Verlander, Justin Upton or Victor Martinez — rather, what I’d like to see is general manager Brian Cashman swing a deal for a power hitting outfielder that just turned 29. That man is J.D. Martinez.

Martinez, who can play either corner outfield position well, is coming off another fantastic offensive season that was limited to only 120 games due to a broken right elbow suffered in mid-July. In 460 at-bats, Martinez hit .307/.373/.535 with 22 home runs and 68 RBI. For a guy that only walked 49 times while striking out 128 times, that robust .373 OBP is outstanding — especially when placed anywhere from 3-6 in a respective batting order.

For those in need of a better representation as to what to expect out of Martinez during a full season’s worth of play, look no further than his breakout 2015 campaign. No only did he bat .282/.344/.535 with 38 home runs and 102 RBI, but Martinez proved his worth defensively too, finishing the season with the third most outfield assists in the AL (15), third-most putouts by a right fielder (265), and the top overall FLD% by a right fielder at .993.

The Yankees would be wise to add Martinez to the fold for a number of reasons: he’s in the final season of his contract at a reasonable salary of $11.75M. Taking into account the type of money it would likely cost the Yankees to sign Yoenis Cespedes this offseason, Martinez is a far better bargain going forward.

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Cespedes’ worth could exceed north of 4-years, $90M — and don’t be surprised if someone like the San Francisco Giants and their barren Minor League system comes along and offers him something crazy like 5-years, $105M.

Obviously, should Martinez continue to excel at his current rate, then his fortunes will grow exponentially when he reaches free agency next winter. But if the Yankees were to offer a package of say Brett Gardner and Luis Cessa in return for Martinez, and then get him to re-up for 4-years, $75M (give or take) then the Yankees would have done themselves a huge bonus in terms of adding a legitimate power threat to protect Gary Sanchez in next year’s lineup at an economical fee.

Having Martinez in pinstripes makes the Yankees outfield more balanced — as he gives you a prototypical power hitter who is also a plus defender with a flat out super arm, to plug in with the speed and range of Jacoby Ellsbury and the raw talent that is Aaron Judge. Another year of Gardner and Ellsbury at the top of the lineup will result in tempered expectations because of the similarities of both their games.

As for why I chose Gardner and Cessa: the Tigers desperately need a center fielder (they can’t be serious about Anthony Gose… again). Gardner, coming off his first Gold Glove award would be a solid addition to roaming the wide open spaces of Comerica Park. Those deep outfield gaps would serve his offensive game well too — if he can remember the importance of hitting line drives instead of lazy fly balls.

Sure, Gardner’s 33, which goes against the Tigers’ desire to get younger, but he fills a need. If this team intends to stay somewhat competitive next season, which it will be if they are unable to find takers for the majority of their veteran players (Jordan Zimmerman included), a competent leadoff hitter is a must addition.

As for Cessa, the Tigers were reluctant to give him up to Yankees in the Justin Wilson trade from a year ago, so why not send him back, especially since his propensity for allowing the home run ball would play out a whole lot better in Detroit than it does in the bandbox known as Yankee Stadium.

To me, the still developing 24-year-old Cessa falls behind a succession of a healthy Chad Green, James Kaprielian, and Bryan Mitchell in terms of pure “stuff.” While I’d be more than happy to see Cessa compete for a spot in the Yankees’ 2017 rotation, he’d still be the one young shooter I’d give up in a trade without hesitation.

Next: What the Astros Can Offer for McCann

Yankees fans are constantly stating their case that this team shouldn’t do anything drastic because it’s likely the Yankees won’t contend for any tangible titles for another year or so. My response to that is that the acquisition of a player like Martinez is not crazy at all. Actually, it makes a ton of sense — to incrementally get better this upcoming season, while also speeding up the rebuilding process in general. Now, I don’t now about you, but I’m ready to get back to Postseason baseball.