RedEye

Theo, have I got a deal for you

Victor Martinez DH’d for the Tigers in 112 games last season.

Now he’s out for the year with a knee injury.

Tell me Theo Epstein was phoning Detroit about Alfonso Soriano.

Sounds like a pipe dream. Sounds like I’m wake ‘n bakin’. Who would take Soriano with three years and $54 million left? With so many other potential DH’s still unsigned in free agency, who would bother with Soriano at any cost of cash and human life forms? Sounds like I’m a big client of the Sam Hurd Cartel.

But no. I bring you this idea bong-free.

You don’t offer Soriano to Detroit, you demand it as you offer Matt Garza.

The Tigers had been asking about Garza before Martinez got hurt. They’re looking to do more than dominate the AL Central. They have World Series ideas and were looking to strengthen their pitching behind the Cy Young winner. Starting pitching that can beat Texas remains a need, and now the Tigers have a hole where home runs used to be.

Free agents such as Johnny Damon and Vladimir Guerrero would cost the Tigers money. Soriano would cost them young bodies, but also bring them a guy who might be an ace in a lot of rotations.

The Tigers claimed recent reports of their interest in Garza were overstated. Maybe, maybe not.

The Tigers also said they wouldn’t part with their top prospects in such a deal. Maybe, maybe not.

One thing I know is true: Things have changed. Detroit’s great big lineup that deodorized some bad starting pitching is not so great and big anymore.

Epstein seems a pretty straightforward guy. His pitch here would seem pretty straightforward:

You want the best available arm you can put behind Justin Verlander for next season and many years after? You take the left fielder we don’t want in left field anymore.

Soriano is a one-trick pony, but he fills the one trick the Tigers just lost. Someone has to bat behind Miguel Cabrera. If it’s Alex Avila, then someone has to bat behind Avila. You get the idea.

Epstein is looking for value in every move he makes. Value is a vague enough concept that you can spin any deal as having been worth it.

F’rinstance, paying some sucker to take Carlos Zambrano and getting a broken left-hander in exchange is value. Sean Marshall for someone else’s question mark is value. Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu for someone else’s flop is value.

And even if it isn’t true, you can sell it that way because nobody will know for sure for several years, and by then, Epstein will be making other moves he’ll be selling as value.

The Cubs would have to pay a lot of Soriano’s salary the way they they’re paying a lot of Zambrano’s, but they might eat a lot less of Tom Ricketts’ money than first thought if they deal him with Garza.

Getting rid of the last and biggest Jim Hendry albatross might be value alone, but the Cubs also would be dumping an undisciplined hitter and a lousy fielder, exactly the kind of player Epstein doesn’t want.

In addition to all the reasons the Cubs should push this move, you might add urgency, and here’s why:

Epstein needs to get value out of Garza before Commissioner Bud Selig decides Garza must go to the Red Sox in exchange for Epstein himself.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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