Tigers acquire Anthony Gose from Toronto
Hours after the Tigers took care of Victor Martinez, they made another move to address their center-field void. They also made Devon Travis’ reign as the Tigers top prospect an extremely short one.
Detroit’s trade of Travis to Toronto for Gose was their second move Wednesday at a GM Meetings that traditionally serves more as a springboard for moves to happen in the ensuing weeks.
“Anthony is a true center fielder than can provide us with above average defense in center field with a good arm,” Tigers president/general manager David Dombrowski said in a release. “He possesses above average speed and can steal bases at the major league level. He swings the bat from the left side and we feel that he will continue to improve his offensive game.”
After keeping Victor Martinez in a Tigers uniform, center field was the next priority on the Tigers’ list. With the free-agent market thin in center, they decided their best option was a trade with one of the handful of teams with surplus talent in center.
The 24-year-old Gose was available after spending parts of the last three seasons in Toronto. Despite an outstanding ability to cover ground in center and footspeed that produced two 70-steal seasons in the minor leagues, he struggled to find a regular role. He batted .226 this past season with a .311 on-base percentage, a .604 OPS and 15 stolen bases in 94 games, some of them in relief of injured Colby Rasmus.
Gose is a .234 career hitter in 616 Major League at-bats, with more strikeouts (170) than hits (129), and a .259 hitter with a .715 OPS over seven minor-league seasons. Improving that will be the challenge of hitting coach Wally Joyner, among others, and the key to making him the answer to the void in Detroit’s center field. Rajai Davis handled the position down the stretch, and could end up in a lefty-righty platoon with Gose, but is generally seen as a corner outfielder.
If Gose can take the next step and earn the role, the Tigers have five seasons of him become he could become a free agent, and two seasons before he’d be eligible for arbitration. The latter could be huge in managing a payroll that’s on track to eclipse last year’s $163 million mark.
Travis was a high-rising second-base prospect in the Tigers system, hitting at every level since his selection in the 13th round of the 2012 Draft out of Florida State. After batting .350 or better at two Class A levels in 2013, Travis had an injury-shortened 2014 campaign thanks an early-season oblique injury and a season-ending core muscle injury. In between, he batted .298 at Double-A Erie with 20 doubles, seven triples, 10 homers, 52 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and an .817 OPS.
Travis had started playing center field at Erie in August, both to clear the position block he faced at second base and to try to solve the Tigers’ center-field issues created when Austin Jackson was traded to Seattle in the David Price deal a month earlier. He’ll likely go back to the infield in the Blue Jays system.