The Tigers have once again made a move to trade from an already depleted farm system to try and fortify their outfield, and they made an effort to do that by adding Anthony Gose from Toronto.
Gose was a part-time player in Toronto this year, where he provided excellent defense and good speed, but struggled at the plate. In 2014, he hit .226 with a .279 wOBA which is consistent with his career marks (part-time over three seasons) with a .234 average and a .285 wOBA.
His defense and speed make him more of a threat than his numbers at the plate would indicate, and that’s why even with just 274 plate appearances, he was good for a 1.3 fWAR.
With his speed and defense being a valuable asset, the Tigers could hope Gose could be a most-days center fielder for them. But realistically, Gose shouldn’t be expected to be more than a platoon player and late-inning defensive replacement.
Meanwhile, the Tigers shipped out prospect Devon Travis, a member of the TigsTown top ten in the most recent rankings release. Travis has been an excellent hitter since joining the organization two years ago, hitting over .350 in 2013 and nearly .300 with Erie in 2014.
However, Travis has also battled injuries ever since being drafted. This season alone, he lost a month of time in the spring with a hamstring injury, and missed out on an opportunity this fall to get in more time due to having surgery to repair a core muscle injury, similar to the injury that Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander both suffered last season.
In addition, Travis was blocked at the big league level by Ian Kinsler at second base, in addition to the Tigers having a pair of middle infield prospects that possess similar skill-sets and are a bit more advanced in their progression in Hernan Perez and Eugenio Suarez. To pass them, Travis would have to substantially out-produce them at the plate, as he doesn’t offer the same defensive versatility that the other two do.
That’s why the Tigers were planning on trying Travis in center field, given the need at the position and the glut of players currently at the middle infield spots. However, the experiment lasted only a matter of days before he got hurt, and scouts remained skeptical a player that is somewhat limited athletically could make the move to center, especially in Comerica Park’s vast center field.
Overall, while the headlines of this deal might be attention grabbing in trading a top prospect for a 24-year old center fielder, it’s probably not quite as impactful as that headline indicates.