DETROIT – Jhonny Peralta, his 50-game suspension becoming official on Monday, is going.
Jose Iglesias, obtained from the Boston Red Sox in a blockbuster three-team deal, is here to take his place.
What will this mean for the Detroit Tigers in the months and years ahead?
Quite simply, it means that a middle infield in question just became much more defined. Both Peralta and Tigers injured second baseman Omar Infante are free agents after this season.
Rookie of the Year candidate Iglesias provides Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski a jump on 2014, as well as a strong shortstop for the stretch run. He can now focus on re-signing Infante, and have only one hole to fill if Infante signs elsewhere.
Change has come as Iglesias, 23, grabs the shortstop torch from Peralta, 31.
Iglesias provides Gold Glove potential at the infield’s most important position. Dombrowski noted that after the trade he received a note from one observer who said the only better shortstops he’d seen were Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel – who combined for 24 Gold Gloves.
Iglesias has tremendous range, soft hands and an accurate arm. Rick Porcello is going to benefit from this vacuum cleaner when that sinker gets hit in the hole.
Iglesias also is hitting well enough to run neck-and-neck with Tampa Bay Rays hitting phenom Wil Myers for the most hits (73) and highest average (.323) among American League rookies. Iglesias has 10 doubles, two triples, two homers, 28 runs and 21 RBIs.
The kid from Cuba was the AL Rookie of the Month for batting .395 in June, but had hit only .192 in his last four weeks in Boston. He was 2-for-11 (.182) in his first three games for Detroit, but had a go-ahead single and long homer against the Chicago White Sox. And he took away perhaps three hits playing third base in place of Miguel Cabrera in Sunday’s 3-2, 12-inning win.
Now, Iglesias will move over to shortstop. Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago will play third base until Cabrera (abdominal) is able to do more than pinch hit.
The spacious outfield at Comerica Park could be just the tonic for Iglesias, who was 6-for-14 (.429) with his two triples this season in a three-game series here as a member of the Red Sox.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland sees him as a likely No. 2 hitter somewhere down the road, but Iglesias will drop into the No. 8 or 9 spots for now. It helps that he hits right-handers and left-handers equally well.
Iglesias also is cost-effective with long-range impact capabilities. He’s making $2.1 million this year, isn’t arbitration eligible until 2016 or a free agent until 2019.
Peralta, according to Leyland, was one of Dombrowski’s “finest” acquisitions. Peralta arrived in a June 28, 2010, trade in which the Cleveland Indians received left-handed pitcher Giovanni Soto, who hasn’t reached the majors and is toiling at Triple-A.
Peralta made the All-Star teams in 2011 and 2013, and recovered from a sluggish 2012 regular season to sparkle in the ALDS against the Oakland A’s and ALCS against the New York Yankees. Detroit might not have advanced to the World Series without his fielding and hitting show against the Yankees.
Peralta had average range but some of the softest hands. He made sure throws with stunning consistency and is a plus defender.
He batted .305 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs this year to provide true danger in the No. 6 spot in the batting order. Detroit will miss his power and production, for sure.
Peralta supplied stability and productivity, but now he’s gone, paying for his sins against the game as part of the Biogenesis Clinic PED scandal.
Iglesias, who helped spark an East Division team to the head of the standings, has a chance to help keep the Tigers atop the Central Division standings.
He also has the potential to have a lasting impact on the franchise, which hasn’t had a Gold Glove winner at shortstop since Alan Trammell in 1984.