This Detroit Tigers starter should be a trade target of the Cleveland Guardians

With the team losing star pitcher Shane Bieber to injury to begin the season, the Guardians require a reliable starter in the back half of the season
Jack Flaherty, DET Tigers
Jack Flaherty, DET Tigers / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

The Cleveland Guardians are in need of a reliable starting pitcher to pair with the recent performances of youngster Tanner Bibee and ole' reliable Triston McKenzie. Fortunately, they may not have to look far for an experienced third-piece. Just up north, in the land no Clevelander likes to mention, the Detroit Tigers possess a man who has made waves up in the consistency department this year: Jack Flaherty.

“What I didn't know was he was gonna bring his best fastball into the first inning and then just take off and dominate," Tigers Manager A.J. Hinch said after Flaherty struck out 14 against his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Truly, no nerves could stop him from showing out against the organization that once drafted him. That ballgame came back on April 30 to kickstart his first year with the Tigers organization.

This season, Flaherty has amassed an ERA of 3.84, an opponent batting average of .247 and has struck out 81 batters. For a team like the Cleveland Guardians, he would fit in perfectly.

Why would Detroit part ways with him?

A simple answer would be that the Tigers organization is riddled with youngsters in their minor league system itching for an opportunity in the big leagues. Flaherty is not a part of the team's long-term storyline, with the addition of him this year being a bridge for a singular season. The original contract was slotted at one year for $14,000,000 million and opportunities for bonuses if he played well. That alone shows that the Tigers recognize his talent but are not willing to invest in him for a long period of time.

Through his first 10 starts, Flaherty has a 1-4 record. Even with his good performances, the team is not able to win many games. As of Thursday, May 30, the Tigers sit 4th in the AL Central with an overall record of 27-28, one game below .500.

For a player like Flaherty, his talent is being overshadowed by a team struggling in multiple other aspects on the field and at the plate. The Guardians could be his saving grace and give him permanent ground to stand on.

A trade for the Guardians could see the team give up a number of young prospects who have no real chance of taking up time at themajorleague level. A simple but effective trade would see Cleveland send Triple-A prospect 1B/DH Jhonkensy Noel and RHP Andrew Walters. Noel has knocked 13 home runs and eight doubles through 45 games, which would provide a real spark in power for the Tigers. He also can fill a variety of unsolidified roles on the team at first base, third base, in the outfield, or even as a designated hitter. 

The Guardians should be more than willing to move on from Noel due to the stellar play of 1B Josh Naylor, 3B Jose Ramirez, and Utility David Fry, all of which cover the positions that Noel would play in. This would also gives him a fresh start and a potential path to playing time.

Just like Noel, Walters is in need of a fresh place to lay his feet. He currently is one of the top pitchers in Double-A with the Akron Rubberducks. Through 17 games and 20 innings pitched, he has a 3-0 record, a 1.35 ERA, and 38 strikeouts. While being 24 years old in his first year in the professional baseball scene, he may be behind the curve just slightly for an organization like the Guardians that has plenty of young prospective pitchers.

A trade to Detroit gives both Walters and Noel plenty of time to work with a struggling team that can take chances on its minor-league talent. The nice thing about this trade as well is that if Flaherty doesn't work out or the future doesn't see him in Cleveland, the organization does have the opportunity to part ways this offseason. However, the Guardians may as well explore this option if they truly want to compete deep into October.