Jhonny Peralta has been a member of the Tigers since the Indians dealt him to Detroit near the trade deadline in 2010. But after receiving a 50-game suspension Monday for his ties to the Biogenesis scandal, Peralta's future with the Tigers organization is in question.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski was vague when asked Monday about Peralta's role going forward, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes. When asked whether Peralta would return to the club to play in the last few games of the regular season and in the playoffs, Dombrowski said, "That’s down the road. That’s two months. I think I’ve spoken enough about that."
The Tigers' recent acquisition of Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox would surely seem to have at least some impact on the team's plans for Peralta. Iglesias will start at shortstop in Peralta's absence, and Danny Knobler of CBS Sports hears (via Twitter) that if Iglesias performs well, Peralta's tenure with the Tigers could be over. "Early sense I get is that if Iglesias does well at shortstop, Tigers might not want Peralta back. We'll see," Knobler writes.
For 2014 and beyond, if not for the end of the 2013 season, it makes sense that Peralta's fate would be tied to Iglesias'. Peralta (who had been set to make $6MM in 2013) becomes a free agent this winter, whereas Iglesias is not eligible for free agency until after 2018. Iglesias won't even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2015 season, and while he isn't the typical zero-to-three player (he can't receive more than a 20% pay cut in 2014 on his $2.06MM 2013 salary), he'll be awfully cheap for at least two more years.
So if Iglesias performs capably down the stretch, there's no room for Peralta in Detroit, as least not as a starting shortstop. There's the possibility that the Tigers could re-sign Peralta and use him at third base, but that seems like a stretch -- Miguel Cabrera is a poor fielder there, but with Prince Fielder at first base and Victor Martinez (who's signed through 2014) at designated hitter, it will be tough for the Tigers to move him. With Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago set to become free agents, it might also be possible for the the Tigers to re-sign Peralta and use Iglesias at second base.
With Peralta about to hit free agency and with a 50-game suspension ahead of him, however, it might be jumping the gun to even consider such scenarios. Knobler's take seems fairly likely to be true -- if Iglesias doesn't perform, the Tigers might have a need for Peralta, but if Iglesias does, Peralta's future with the Tigers will become very murky. It's far from certain that Iglesias will hit, however, and Peralta, with his .305/.361/.461 performance in 2013, will likely be a sought-after free agent, even with a PED suspension on his record.