July 28th, 2013

Dombrowski talks trade market, bullpen, Infante

Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has not done a whole lot of talking with the media this month as the trade deadline approached. When he has, he has kept his comments guarded, and to some degree he did the same with reporters after Sunday’s win. Still, there were some comments that stood out.

His vote of confidence in his closer and second-year setup man seemed to be near the top of the list.

“All I can say is that we feel very comfortable in the ninth and eighth innings with Benoit and Smyly. I don’t know where you’re really going to go out and improve that significantly,” Dombrowski said. “Now, can you get better? We’re very young in our bullpen right now. We’re talented but we’re young. That’s really where I guess I’d leave it at this point.”

Without directly identifying his pursuit, the quote seemed to reinforce the growing perception that the Tigers are directing their search for relief help to guys who would support Benoit at closer, where he’s 10-for-10 in save chances with standout secondary numbers, rather than replace him.

His remarks on Smyly, too, seemingly indicate his work has made him a piece to build around as well, at least for the stretch run. It’s everywhere else in the bullpen where Dombrowski might use some help.

“We have some guys, and I think some of them could end up being very good for us,” Dombrowski continued. “Some days, they’re very, very good, and some days they’re not quite as good. That’s what happens when you’re young at times, but it doesn’t mean that they cannot contribute. So that’s what you look at, and I think it’s also very dependent upon how deep into the game our starters go. That makes a difference. Jim [Leyland] has always said can he use the bullpen how he wants to use it. I think he’s been able to do that since the All-Star break most of the time.”

Whether Dombrowski can swing a deal to help him do that remains to be seen. There were no remarks Sunday indicated whether or not a deal was close, but Dombrowski there was a lot of talk ongoing. He also indicated the supply-and-demand ratio on the trade market is heavily tilted, and the impact on demands is heavy.

“I think it’s more of a seller’s market,” Dombrowski said. “There are many more clubs that are looking to [buy]. There’s very few clubs that are in a position right now where they’re saying that, ‘We’re not in it,’ at least with the second Wild Card. There’s very few clubs that fit that category. …

“This is a very unusual situation. It’s a lot different. I’ve read other clubs’ comments. There are very few clubs that don’t think that they’re in a position to be able to get a playoff spot, at least the second wild card spot. So that leads to very few clubs that are willing to make moves, and a lot of clubs that want to make some type of addition. Again, you have to sit back and do your own homework, which we do on a daily basis: Who might be available? Do you have interest in that guy? And then also, what are they asking for that guy? That’s what you do at this time of year all the time. But yeah, there’s a lot of talk going on and we’ll see what happens.”

Whether that means talks are going to continue up to Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline is something Dombrowski says he doesn’t have a read on yet.

“I don’t really know, because you just never know about those things. You see [Matt] Garza got traded already. [Alfonso] Soriano got traded. I’m not really sure. I know what people are asking for right now with various conversations. When you talk to other general managers, you get a pulse for that. But, will clubs come off of those requests? Will they not come off of those requests?

“I always say at this time of year, things change on a daily perspective. Some clubs might say, ‘Hey, we’re close enough now that all of a sudden we’re going to be in it.’ And there might be somebody else that says, ‘You know what, it’s changed, and we’re willing to make a move.'”

Dombrowski downplayed a  sense of urgency to swing a deal, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t pushing for one.

“There’s not any sense of urgency,” he said. “I don’t feel that. You do what you can. We’ve got a good club. We’ll go about playing. We’ll see if we can improve the team and see what happens.”

He does not, however, see them having to do anything at second base, where Omar Infante’s setback with his sprained left ankle seems set to cost him another week or two.

“He’ll be back fine,” Dombrowski said. “It’ll be a little bit of time. I don’t really know a time frame at this time, but he’ll be back. And [Hernan] Perez has played very well for us with [Ramon] Santiago. If that’s our biggest problem, then we’ll be in pretty good shape. I feel comfortable with them.”

Dombrowski declined comment on anything regarding Jhonny Peralta’s link with the Biogenesis clinic in Miami and the ongoing MLB investigation.

“That’s all commissioner’s office stuff,” Dombrowski said. “They’ll let us know when they want us to know.”