The Tigers are reportedly willing to listen to offers on breakout lefty Matthew Boyd, but Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that the team has unsurprisingly placed a sky-high asking price on the southpaw. Beck cites the four-player package sent by the Cubs to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana blockbuster in 2017 as a point of comparison in describing Detroit’s early ask. That package was headlined by Eloy Jimenez and top pitching prospect Dylan Cease. If the Tigers are to deal Boyd, it seems they’d need multiple high-end prospects to headline any deal.
Though Boyd has been plagued by the long ball a bit in recent starts, it’s understandable that they’re aiming high. Boyd is controlled all the way through the 2022 season as a Super Two player, and is earning just $2.8MM this season. His 26.0 K-BB% ranks fifth in the Majors, trailing only Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Chris Sale. Boyd is tied for the sixth-best overall strikeout percentage in the Majors (30.8 percent) and the tenth-lowest walk rate (4.8 percent). He’s upped his slider usage substantially in recent seasons and has seen marked growth in his swinging-strike rate and his opponents’ chase rate on pitches out of the strike zone.
Strictly comparing Boyd to Quintana, the Chicago lefty was also in his age-28 season at the time of his trade, and had a much more distinguished big league track record. Prior to the 2017 season, Quintana had already logged 951 MLB innings with a 3.41 ERA, while Boyd had only a 5.07 ERA over 460 career frames prior to upping his performance this season. Quintana also brought over three years of control thanks to a prior contract extension, allowing the Cubs to keep him under contract through 2018 and then 2019-2020 on a pair of club options.
Plenty of scouts were on hand for Boyd’s 11-strikeout performance last night, per Beck, with the Cubs and Red Sox among the teams represented. Of course, it’s worth noting that teams constantly have scouts on hand to watch rival players, and Boyd isn’t the only Tiger who could be moved this summer. Nicholas Castellanos and Shane Greene are clear trade candidates for the rebuilding Tigers. Beyond that, teams were surely interested in getting a look at Detroit’s opponent, the Rangers, particularly with Mike Minor on the mound.
Then again, the surprising Rangers may not ultimately act as sellers at all, which may additionally work in the Tigers’ favor as they market Boyd. Texas looks unlikely to deal Minor or righty Lance Lynn right now, taking a pair of potential trade candidates off the market for teams interested in pursuing starting pitchers. The Indians, too, have played better in recent weeks, which may quiet some of the rumblings about the possibility of them moving Trevor Bauer. Broadly speaking, there won’t be too many appealing arms on the market — particularly not ones who are controlled or signed beyond the current season. Even Toronto’s Marcus Stroman, frequently billed as a “controllable” starter, is only under club control through 2020.