Life without Iglesias: Who are the Tigers' best options to fill in at shortstop?

Rob Carr

Handicapping the Tigers' options at shortstop now that Jose Iglesias is out for an extended period of time.

With news breaking on Monday that Jose Iglesias has stress fractures in both his legs, the Tigers shortstop situation for the season ahead has only grown more muddled.

The Tigers don't know when Iglesias will be healthy enough to return, and with a roster built to win now, it will be necessary for GM Dave Dombrowski to find a suitable replacement for the 24-year-old infielder. Steve Lombardozzi might be a decent utility option, but he shouldn't be the starting shortstop for a club with World Series aspirations.

That leads us to the options that Detroit might pursue in replacing Iglesias. Immediately upon learning that Iglesias would be out for an extended period of time, many observers speculated that the Tigers would look to sign free agent Stephen Drew to man the shortstop position. While that appeared to be an increasingly likely scenario heading into Monday, Dombrowski has stated the team isn't interested in Drew for now and is first looking at internal options instead. That could be true, though Lombardozzi, Eugenio Suarez, Hernan Perez, and Danny Worth are the organization's only internal candidates for the job. Suarez has just 111 games of experience above the Single-A level and didn't impress with the bat in Double-A last season, hitting .253/.332/.387. Perez is a second baseman by trade, and although he has hit decently well in the upper minors, struggled during a brief spell in the majors in 2013. Worth, meanwhile, has been unable to hold down a roster spot after getting multiple opportunities with the Tigers dating back to 2010.

So who else could the Tigers turn to if they truly aren't pursuing Drew?

According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports, the Tigers asked about Diamondbacks prospect Chris Owings, though the talks haven't progressed beyond the asking. Owings would be an intriguing option, but speculation is increasing that the Diamondbacks will begin the year with Owings as their starting shortstop. The 22-year-old hit .330/.359/.482 with 12 home runs and 81 RBI for Arizona's Triple-A affiliate in 2013 and has a better offensive skill-set than fellow D-Backs shortstop Didi Gregorius.

Owings would no doubt be a solid option for the Tigers, but it appears the Diamondbacks would require a strong package in return for the shortstop. This reality might ultimately lead Detroit and Dombrowski to Seattle's Nick Franklin, who has been the subject of trade talks throughout the offseason after the Mariners signed Robinson Cano.

Franklin can play both shortstop and second base, and despite hitting just .225/.303/.382 after debuting for the Mariners in 2013, the 23-year-old did showcase some above-average power for a middle infielder, belting 12 home runs in 412 plate appearances. According to Ollie Connolly of Outside Pitch Sports Network, moreover, the Tigers do have interest in Franklin.

A former top prospect in the Mariners system, Franklin does come with impressive pedigree. He hit .324/.440/.472 with 13 extra-base hits in 39 games for Seattle's Triple-A affiliate last season and continued to showcase that type of ability at the plate in the majors. The biggest question facing Franklin, though, is his glove, with the 23-year-old showing a less-than-consistent track record at shortstop. He committed 12 errors in just 90 games at second base last year and started just two games at shortstop. Franklin's offense might be an asset for the Tigers at short, but it is fair to question how much he would give back with his glove.

How serious any potential trade talks are between the Tigers and Mariners regarding Franklin is unknown. The Mets and Rays have both been linked with the middle infielder this offseason as well, and the Tigers could probably land the switch hitter if they wanted to.

Yet exactly who the Tigers truly want to fill in at shortstop is unknown. They can try to get by with their internal candidates, but considering the roster is built for the present, none of the club's in-house options seem too appealing.

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