After a disappointing offensive performance from the Tigers shortstop this season, Jhonny Peralta is playing his best baseball when it truly matters – in the postseason.
Finishing with a .239 batting average with only 13 homeruns and 63 RBIs in the regular season, Peralta appears completely rejuvenated thus far in the playoffs.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Peralta said, “I’m not trying to do anything different from the regular season. But right now, some of the best moments for me are happening. It’s great, it’s unbelievable.”
Following the ALCS sweep of the New York Yankees, he is hitting .343 with 2 home runs and 3 RBIs. He even has more hits (12) than any other Tiger in the postseason.
His defense has been the subject of many critics and many hoped that he would not return to shortstop next year for the Tigers. It seems that Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus sits atop the fans wish list for next season.
Rumors have circulated that the Rangers will test the trade market for Andrus as they have a young up and coming replacement by the name of Jurickson Profar.
A trade like that would come with a high asking price from the Rangers. Andrus is signed through 2014 and is expected to make $4.8 million in 2013. Also, with Scott Boras as his agent, a long-term deal may need to be in place right away following a possible trade.
A trade like that seems like a long shot but you can never know with the Detroit Tigers.
So could the Tigers hit free agency to replace Peralta?
The list is short and the talent is pretty limited. Names like Jason Bartlett, Yuniesky Betancourt, Ronny Cedeno, Cesar Izturis, and Marco Scutaro lead the list.
If you may remember, Scutaro was on the Tigers wish list for second base this past July during the trade deadline. However, he could very well re-sign with the Giants and would be 37-years-old as seasons start next year.
Peralta has a team option at the end of this season and it would pay him $6 million. To put it into comparison, here are the top ten shortstop salaries from 2012 –
- Derek Jeter NYY $15,729,364
- Jimmy Rollins PHI $11,000,000
- Jose Reyes NYM $10,000,000
- Troy Tulowitzki COL $8,250,000
- Stephen Drew ARI $7,750,000
- J.J. Hardy BAL $7,416,666
- Rafael Furcal STL $6,500,000
- Marco Scutaro COL $6,000,000
- Jason Bartlett SD $5,500,000
- Jhonny Peralta DET $5,500,000
The $6 million Peralta would be due looks like minimum wage with the Tigers payroll. I wouldn’t expect the Tigers to do anything crazy in the off-season, at least with the shortstop position.
So you should see Jhonny Peralta playing shortstop at Comerica Park come opening day 2013.
If Dombrowski lets Peralta go and then strikes out in the trade market, fans will never forgive him when they see Ramon Santiago starting at short.
But as we learned from the Prince Fielder signing last year, never rule anything out. Especially if the Tigers lose the World Series, you may see a dramatic signing or trade and it could very well be in the form of Elvis Andrus.
Follow Matthew LaFave on Twitter (@MatthewLaFave) and don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates right to your inbox.