The Detroit Tigers are currently 6 games out of the American League Central with mostly their lackluster pitching staff to blame (6th most runs allowed in the AL).
Evidently the Tigers are more intent on bolstering their offense, particularly by acquiring Adam Dunn (.393 wOBA).
The Tigers already have a good offense (.333 wOBA) but acquiring Dunn will certainly improve it. Such an acquisition would potentially allow the Tigers to bench Ryan Raburn (.277 wOBA) and move the surprisingly productive Johnny Damon (.360 wOBA) back to the outfield (a risky proposition to be sure).
This could improve the team wOBA by a few points, enough to pull away from the White Sox but not to catch up to the Twins. Even by acquiring Dunn, the Tigers offense would still likely not be able to make up the edge the White Sox have in pitching, much less the Twins. That dashes the Tigers hopes of winning the division.
And even if they were able to make up the difference with the Sox, the Tigers would have no hope of catching up with the likely division winners, i.e. the New York Yankees or the Tampa Bay Rays. Trading for Dunn simply does not make sense for the Tigers.
The Chicago White Sox
If the White Sox acquire Dunn for Edwin Jackson as rumored, they will improve their offense while letting their very good rotation take a hit (4.12 xFIP). With a team wOBA of .330, worse than the Tigers and Twins, this seems like a worthwhile proposition.
Thickening the plot further is the White Sox luck thus far. They are winning the division, but the Pythaogrean Formula predicts that they really should be trailing the Twins by 1.5 games and that they will finish 3 games out of first at their current pace.
To buy some insurance against their luck and to strengthen their chances of winning the Wild Card should Minnesota take the division, the White Sox seem like they really need Adam Dunn, especially considering their shaky DH situation: Mark Kotsay with a .286 wOBA and the unsustainable efforts of the young Brent Lillibridge .479 wOBA in 29 PAs. They should be desperate to get Dunn.The Tampa Bay Rays
To my horror, while writing this article I discovered that the Rays are also in the mix for Adam Dunn.
The New York Yankees and the Rays are shockingly well matched. The Pythagorean Formula predicts both of them to finish with the same record if they continue their current pace. I can almost without hesitation say that both of these teams will make the playoffs. This means that even with the recent flurry of Yankees trades, the Rays should really not care that much about bolstering their offense.
The Bottom Line
If I were a betting man, I would bet that if Adam Dunn does get traded and I really, really think he should be traded, but not necessarily that he will be-it will be to the White Sox. They have the most to gain by his acquisition, and therefore they will likely be willing to give up the most for him. The Tigers will almost certainly not make the playoffs and the Rays will almost certainly make the playoffs. Neither really has much to gain by acquiring Dunn.
The White Sox, however, have much to gain, a trip to the playoffs that is very much in doubt. If anyone acquires Dunn, my bet is that it will be the White Sox.
But then again, Mike Rizzo may just be a little too in love with his top slugger.