Friday, 1 July 2011

Can Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski really find a taker for Brad Thomas?

bradthomas_040211AP PhotoWith a bullpen stocked full of lefties, the Detroit Tigers are looking to trade Brad Thomas when he's activated from the disabled list.

The Detroit Tigers have too much of one thing on their roster right now: Left-handed relievers. And one more is set to rejoin the active roster soon, as Brad Thomas is close to the end of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo.

So Dave Dombrowski is doing what any smart general manager would do, seeing if he can use that surplus to help out another area of the team that might be lacking. According to's Jon Paul Morosi, Dombrowski is checking around the league for any possible interest in Thomas.

At first glance, this doesn't look like an easy task. Before going on the disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow, Thomas walked six batters and allowed 17 hits in 11 innings of work and compiled a 9.00 ERA. Between those numbers and an aching elbow, Dombrowski hasn't exactly put prime beef on the trading block.

However, teams are often looking for left-handed specialists for their bullpens. And Thomas was good in that role last season, allowing opposing lefty batters a .252/.328/.304 average in 132 plate appearances. Dombrowski will presumably try to sell that, rather than the .400/.480/.550 average Thomas has allowed in 25 PAs against lefties this year.

According to Morosi, it's not yet known if any teams have expressed serious interest in Thomas. Possible suitors will likely wait until Thomas has proven he can once again get major league hitters out. The 2.00 ERA and 10 strikeouts in nine innings that Thomas has compiled during his rehab assignment looks impressive, but that came against Triple-A competition.

Which teams might need a lefty reliever? The Boston Red Sox could be one. The Houston Astros might be another. But from looking over the major league rosters, it looks like most clubs have that need covered. What Dombrowski will have to hope for is a team looking for a second lefty. Maybe one of the playoff contenders will find themselves at that point eventually.

The funny thing is that one of those teams will probably be the Tigers.

Several left-handed relievers far better than Thomas also figure to be on the market. And if Daniel Schlereth can't stop walking batters (or giving up grand slams), David Purcey isn't suited to a lefty specialist role, or Jim Leyland decides that Charlie Furbush is too inexperienced to handle that kind of responsibility, the Tigers will likely be among those teams looking to add one of those other left-handers.

But maybe we shouldn't discount Dombrowski's ability to convince another GM to take an unwanted player off his hands. Over the past two years, he's been able to unload Armando Galarraga, Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson onto other teams. (Should we include Scott Sizemore on that list, too?)

Two of those deals were made with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Perhaps Dombrowski can hit the D-Backs up one more time. Would they be interested in taking Schlereth back, too?

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