It’s unclear what the end game is with respect to the newest Tiger, Anthony Gose. He can play a terrific center field and run the bases well, which is exactly the kind of player for which I’ve been pining all offseason, but he’s also a virtual zero at the plate.
He projects for an 81 wRC+ in 2015 to go with his career 75 wRC+. It’s a tiny MLB sample, but he hasn’t hit lefties and is considerably below average against righties. In the minors, he was passable against righties and worse than that against lefties. You can imagine a scenario in which his offense won’t be a disaster, but the upside isn’t there at all. If you’re dreaming of a league average bat, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
To some extent and if used properly, that’s okay. Gose could potentially be a +15 CF and a +5 base runner. With numbers like that, you can live with a wOBA in the .290 range, but that’s asking him to be one of the best defensive outfielders in the game while hitting at his career and projected line.
The scouting reports on his defense and base running are very positive but there’s simply no way for him to contribute as a starter if those things are anything short of superlative. Someone like Peter Bourjos (a player I’ve identified as a target) is a better hitter and has a longer track record of sterling defensive work, but you can’t get Bourjos for Gose prices.
In reality, if your choice is between Gose and Devon Travis, the player the Tigers dealt, for 2015, Gose is an easy call. He’s the better player right now, he’s healthy, and he plays a position the Tigers need. That part is easy. Would you rather have Travis long term? Perhaps, but he only stands out because of the barren farm system. Some people will hype his prospect status in the aftermath of the deal, but he’s just another middle infielder the Tigers can afford to lose.
The real concern with this trade is that it’s a half measure. Gose can pick it in center, but there’s not enough bat there to go into the regular season with Davis-Gose-Martinez. This outfield is still at least one man short, and it needs to be a man who can legitimately hit. If you’re going to run a NEW GUY-Gose-Martinez vs RHP and NEW GUY-Davis-Martinez vs LHP platoon, that might work, but the new guy needs to be a really strong player.
On balance, a fine move, but they didn’t acquire anything more than a fringe regular. There’s still a lot more work to be done.