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Tigers Deal with Cubs, Begin Rebuilding

After weeks of speculation about the landing spot for Justin Wilson, the wait is over.  At one point, it seemed like every team competing for the postseason was in the sweepstakes.  Yet, it’s the defending World Champion Chicago Cubs who land the left-handed reliever along with Catcher Alex Avila.  Here’s a closer look:

Trading Wilson and Avila was a no-brainer.  Justin Wilson has spent his career in the bullpen, first in Pittsburgh, then with the Yankees before being traded to Detroit after the 2015 season.  His 2016 season was less than spectacular, but he earned his way into the Closer spot in May, when K-Rod was demoted.  He sits at a 2.68 ERA, .942 WHIP and 13 Saves in 40.1 innings.  Alex Avila came up through the Tigers system and played only one season (2016) with the Chicago White Sox.  Detroit signed him to a one year contract in the off-season.  In 77 games, Avila has had the best season since 2011, batting .274 with 11 HR and 32 RBIs.  It has been rumored for weeks the Cubs were interested in acquiring him, now it is confirmed.

Who did the Tigers get in return?   Third Baseman Jeimer Candelario is the main piece of this trade and comes to Detroit as a top prospect in the Cubs system, now ranked #3 among Tigers prospects after today’s trade.  Candelario is batting .266/.361/.507 with 12 HR and 52 RBIs at Triple-A Iowa.  Candelario can also play First Base, but has nowhere to go in Chicago, with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo at the corners.  Additionally, Infielder Isaac Paredes is just 18 years old, but highly regarded in the Cubs farm system.  Playing Shortstop at Single-A South Bend, Paredes is hitting .264/.343/.401 with 7 HR and 49 RBIs.  He can also play Second Base.  

What becomes of Nick Castellanos?   Candelario played 11 games in the Majors this season, but will report to Toledo upon his arrival with the Tigers.  Depending upon his performance, it would not be surprising to see Candelario getting some playing time in Detroit before the end of the season.  Castellanos is batting .245/.310/.432, but has provided some pop at the plate racking up 15 HR and 57 RBIs.  Candelario’s arrival will make next year’s Spring Training more interesting.  

The Tigers have potentially remade their future Infield.  The arrival of Candelario and Parendes, along with the Dawel Lugo, who was acquired in the JD Martinez trade, may provide a glimpse of the future Tigers Infield.  In the near term, Victor Martinez has only one year left on his contract.  Assuming he leaves Detroit after 2018, Candelario could also share time with Miguel Cabrera at First Base, allowing Miggy to DH.  

At first glance, the Tigers don’t look that difference after the Trade Deadline.  Rumors of Justin Verlander, Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias and even Michael Fulmer being dealt have now come and gone.  Of course, there are still possibilities through the month of August.  Brad Ausmus announced Shane Greene is moving into the Closer spot.  Jim Adduci has been playing Right Field after the departure of JD Martinez and Mikie Mathook is having a good season in Center Field.  

Overall, the Tigers did not give up much.  JD Martinez is a solid hitter and having a fantastic season, but is in the final year of his contract and the Tigers did not plan to resign him.  Theoretically, Alex Avila could finish out the year with the Cubs, have a shot at a World Series, and sign back with Detroit next season.  Justin Wilson should be a good piece for the Cubs as they work toward October, but given Greene’s numbers this season, he is probably a lateral move in the Closer role.   

In conclusion, while Tigers fans may not be singing the praises of GM Al Avila, his trade deadline moves, as a whole, are not that bad.  Particularly, the deal with the Cubs.  This marks the beginning of Detroit’s rebuilding process, fans may have to be patient in the months (and years) ahead.

Brian is the Co-Owner/Managing Editor at Legends on Deck and Co-Host on Legends On Deck Podcast. He's been writing about baseball at LOD since 2017. He grew up in the Detroit area and is a lifelong Tigers fan. However, he shares some affinity for his son George's favorite team, the Atlanta Braves. Brian also has a particular interest in the amateur side of the game, including high school, college and collegiate summer league baseball. Brian and George also love collecting and selling baseball cards. You can find them selling on eBay (@Kossball) or posting on George's Instagram (@Kossball). Brian lives in Horizon West (Winter Garden), Florida with his wife (Grace), three daughters and son George. You can also reach him at

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