This is going to be your “not so in-depth” look at the upcoming free agent market for the Detroit Tigers. I’d like to reserve any kind of bold predictions or detailed analysis until we get closer to December. That said, at a glance, here are my ramblings.
In an completely expected move, the Tigers declined their $15 million/1-yr option on Magglio Ordonez. This was obviously a no-brainer. What’s not as night and day is whether or not the Tigers want to bring back the soon to be 37-year old right fielder. There is zero question in my mind what the right move is, and that is to bring him back with a 2-year deal.
If we survey the top-tier free agent outfielders that are in the same ballpark number-wise as Magglio, you find Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford, and Adam Dunn.
Starting with Werth, here’s another Scott Boras client entering his early thirties that will be demanding an outrageous long-term deal as he coasts towards mediocrity in his twilight. It’s very difficult to make a case against Philly’s right-fielder, who strangely looks like the wrestler “Edge”, but for a team that has swung and missed on so many large contracts, the risk doesn’t seem “Werth” it. I’m so rusty, that was terrible, sorry. You know what your getting in Werth. You get a guy who consistently has an OPS over .850, a cannon in right field, and 150-190 strikeouts a year. Many will say he makes up for his strikeout-rate with his .388 on-base percentage. For a team like the Tigers, who are Picassos in the art of leaving runners on-base, I think it’s a huge liability for the amount of money you sink into his contract. Magglio, before his injury, was having a spectacular season, and clearly has a lot left in the tank. He doesn’t strike out, he’s a perfect 3-hole hitter, and can be had for much less risk. Even if he’s commanding $10-12 million, it’s a 2-year deal. Risk vs. Reward, I don’t think it’s close.
Carl Crawford. No chance.
Adam Dunn is probably the most popular player not on the Tigers roster. Everyone I talked to on deadline day in Boston was salivating over Dunn. There’s a lot to like, and there’s a lot that gives you hesitation. Dunn is a gifted power hitter with a consistently high on-base percentage and would be a perfect bat to plump behind Miggy. That said, he’s an atrocious fielder, and the Tigers have no where to put him. If Dunn were okay with the DH spot for most of his time in Detroit, there’s no reason, with the amount of money available, the Tigers can’t have both Ordonez and Dunn. The DH question is a big “if”, though.
I just got done saying I was going to refrain from making stupid predictions, but I can’t help myself. The Tigers are going to sign Victor Martinez. If he’s willing to take a short-term deal for big money, Dave Dombrowski has to oblige. Sure, he’s a defensive downgrade behind the plate, but a monstrous upgrade offensively. Not to mention, Verlander-Scherzer-Porcello make throwing out base runners much easier. He’s a definite possibility, and I think the Tigers grab him.
I remember answering an email question over at the Daily Fungo about the future of Jhonny Peralta. I said it was highly unlikely the Tigers pick up Peralta’s option. Then we actually saw him play shortstop. The guy’s pretty competent. Especially with his very solid numbers offensively, $7 million is well worth it. The Tigers will probably grab his option.
So that’s a brief look at where we’re at right now. There are questions to be answered in the outfield, at second base, catcher, DH, and the back end of the rotation and bullpen. But as I probably don’t have to tell you guys, this team is set up beautifully for years to come. The Big 3 in the rotation, the best player in baseball anchored at first, rising star Austin Jackson in center to go with some familiar pieces, there’s a solid foundation. There are far less holes needing to be filled on this roster, making the moves mentioned above very accomplishable. The Tigers will be the team to beat in the Central.