Joe Jiménez is by far the biggest name you’ll see on this list. Coming off an All-Star campaign in 2018, Jiménez has been mediocre at best, posting a 4.79 FIP in his 32 innings of work so far. The Tigers have been in the midst of a full rebuild for roughly three years now and could benefit from waiting on Jiménez to potentially build back his trade value. But is that a risk they’re willing to take, especially if a team like the Mariners offered them a controllable Major League piece at a premium position?
Given that Jiménez is only 24 and is controlled through the 2023 season, the Tigers would have one of the hottest commodities in baseball if he were to return to form by this time next year. That also goes into why the Mariners would be interested, not just for what he could bring to their bullpen by 2021 and beyond, but as a potentially massive trade chip. That’s a big risk, but even though relievers are so finicky—and Jiménez is certainly no exception—this deal is a no-brainer for the M’s.
When you look deeper at Jiménez’s numbers, he hasn’t been too far off from the pitcher he was last year. Luck, or lack thereof, has played a big role, which becomes more apparent when you look at the large gap between his 5.35 ERA and 4.11 xFIP. His xBA (.230) and xSLG (.414) are about league-average right now, and his K/9 (12.89) is up by nearly two strikeouts. Plus, he’s still one of the best in terms of fastball spin-rates and the mid-90s velocity is still there.
Of course, the Tigers are well aware of all of this and what that could indicate for an eventual turnaround, but the struggles this year are real and that means, in all likelihood, there won’t be a whole lot of interest from contenders this week and next. Could the Mariners potentially be outbid? Of course, even comfortably by themselves if they chose to. But this is probably the best the Tigers could hope for at this point if they don’t want to run the risk of Jiménez further damaging his trade value.