The Detroit Tigers will have two representatives in the 92nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which will be contested at Dodger Stadium on July 19.
But within days of the Midsummer Classic, it’s likely one of those Detroit All-Stars will no longer be wearing the Old English D.
Gregory Soto is a two-time All-Star reliever, the first Detroit pitcher to achieve that since Guillermo “Don’t Call Me Willie” Hernandez. In a stretch where the Tigers have been miserable to root for, Soto has been one of the very few bright spots. His wicked slider and fastball combination makes him one of baseball’s most effective left-handed relievers.
Even though Soto has a penchant for wildness that can make fans want to bury their heads in their peanut bags, the 27-year old southpaw will attract suitors at the upcoming MLB trade deadline.
According to MLB.com (they should know, right?), the top teams in need of bullpen arms are the Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Dodgers. That’s four teams primed to play deep into October. It doesn’t matter how much Soto likes a Detroit Coney Dog, pitching for the Dodgers or Yankees would taste a hell of a lot better.
What could the Tigers get for Gregory Soto?
Not only is Soto an effective reliever, but he’s under team control for three more seasons, through 2025. That means he won’t hit the free agent market until 2025-26, giving his team a lot of affordable value. The lefty is arbitration eligible after this season, which means he’ll get a bit of a raise on his current salary of $722,400. Still, if the two-time All-Star is able to double that figure to $1.5 million, he’s a cheap asset.
Because of his affordability, the Tigers will likely try to pry away one or maybe even two players in exchange for Soto. What do the Tigers need?
Have you seen the Detroit Tigers lately? They need offense, and major league ready offense would be nice, thank you very much.
The current roster features only three big leaguers who have a promising future with the bat: Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, and Javier Báez. Beyond that, the lineup is pockmarked with ugly swings. Sure, Miguel Cabrera can still hit the baseball, but his power is absent, and his days are numbered. Detroit needs numerous quality bats, hopefully on the younger side.
That means general manager Al Avila needs to have his scouting department scour the rosters and farm systems of the Yankees, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and other teams that may desire Soto. What’s he looking for? A high-level prospect who can hit the baseball, or even a younger player whose been in the majors and some success. Soto could command two players, but probably not top-ten prospect types.
The Tigers have hopes for catcher Dillon Dingler, who has yet to reach Triple-A, but has exhibited promise as a hitter. Then there’s Ryan Kreidler, whose hit 13 homers in only 70 games at Triple-A, but he’s been hampered by two separate injuries this season. In some ways Kreidler may have a brighter future than Torkelson, who has a long, lopping hitch in his swing and also seems like he thinks too much at the plate.
Kreidler and Dingler MAY develop into lineup pieces for a future Detroit team. But the organization needs more young players like that to invest in. Soto might fetch one.
The Tigers have many options on the pitching side, even a plethora of good arms in the bullpen. Which would soften the loss of Soto, should they deal him at the trade deadline. But if they move their two-time All-Star, they must get a position player in return, one who can put together solid at-bats, one that isn’t hopelessly lost in a funk for months at a time (see Schoop, Candelario, Grossman, Haase for that type of production).
There will never be a better time to trade Gregory Soto, whose value will never be higher than after his second All-Star selection. Come August 1, the reliever will most likely be in another uniform. Hopefully the player or players the Tigers get in return will help them right a listing ship.