This is what an “oh crap” moment looks like. Jose Iglesias is likely out until the All-Star Game and some reports have him missing the entire 2014 campaign. I generally make it a policy not construct full posts without an official announcement from the team, but we’re hearing the news from enough places that it doesn’t look good at all. The shin problems that have been barking for a while and appear to be too much to play through. The defensive wiz will be on the shelf for a good portion of the upcoming campaign.
This is terribly disappointing simply from an enjoyment standpoint because humanity will be robbed of Iglesias making insane play after insane play, but it also looms large for the success of the Tigers. I’m personally bullish on Iglesias. I think he’ll hit enough to allow his glove work to lift him above league average to something close to 3 WAR over a full season. This is a problem, because the Tigers don’t have anything better than a replacement level shortstop on their bench. The cost of losing Iglesias is really three full wins (or however many wins you think he’s worth).
The Tigers’ Achilles shin was and will continue to be depth. Dirks is down for half a season. Iglesias will be out at least that long. The organization has a lot more options in the outfield, so you can fake your way through a Dirks injury, but missing Iglesias, who was expected to play a huge role in the team’s run prevention is suddenly gone. It’s not like losing Cabrera or Verlander, but it’s a bona fide “oh crap” moment.
The response is obvious and will likely be swift. Stephen Drew is going to be a Tiger unless Iglesias’ injury looks less serious to the specialists who evaluate him in the next couple of days. Otherwise, the Tigers don’t have a choice. You can’t spend $160 million on a baseball team and play Steve Lombardozzi at short for 140 games. The chips are in. The die has been cast. The Tigers have to make a move and the only move you can make is Stephen Drew.
The Tigers work well with Scott Boras and Drew is lucky to have the opportunity to play for a contender given the way his market developed. You’ll probably see a one year deal somewhere near $14 million, and you’ll see it sometime in the next couple of days. Boras knows he got lucky with the right injury and the right team, so I doubt he’ll push his luck and pressure them for a multi-year deal. They need each other. Maybe there will be an option, maybe not. But there will be a deal, unless there’s something really surprising we don’t know.
And Drew is a great fit. He’s not Iggy with the glove, but he’s very good and will soften the blow up the middle for the Tigers starters. Additionally, the bat is better than what Iglesias could bring so the net result of this move is probably a very similar team for slightly more money. This is the price of trying to build a star-laden lineup with limited depth. Sometimes, you have to self-insure.
If you’re looking at Drew’s stat line, recognize that he missed the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012 with a broken ankle suffered sliding into home and I’m not at all convinced he was healthy during the games he did play in 2012. He’s a good player. Definitely league average at short and maybe better. He was better in 2013 and you saw what he is capable of with the glove in the ALCS.
This is a pocketbook problem. It will cost them to fill the void, but it’s a void that can be filled. This isn’t like losing Scherzer to a bad UCL. Losing Iglesias is costly, but it’s survivable. Rarely do you face a problem with such an obvious solution, but that’s where the Tigers are. Down a shorstop, and quickly scrambling to sign another.