This will be Al Avila’s first offseason as General Manager of the Detroit Tigers & it may be the most important offseason in recent Tigers memory. More work is needed this year to continue to compete than any during Dave Dombrowski’s tenure.
The core is intact, Miguel Cabrera, the games best hitter, JD Martinez, a solid, power hitting RFer, Jose Iglesias, a wizard on defense up the middle, James McCann is the clear cut starter at Catcher next year & Nick Castellanos, Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez & Anthony Gose aren’t going anywhere.
Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez & Daniel Norris are 3/5ths of a starting rotation & Alex Wilson, Bruce Rondon, Al Albuquerque & Blaine Hardy are the only guarantees in the bullpen.
This leaves a lot of openings on the roster & Mike Illitch is said to be in better health, more involved & ready to spend to win again (according to Justin Spiro of the DetroitSportsRag on Twitter @darkostatenews).
- Zack Greinke – Can Opt out of his contract with the Dodgers, will be the highest paid pitcher on the market. If Mike Illitch is serious about winning, going out and getting Greinke & putting him at the top of your rotation is a very good place to start. Greinke will be 32 next season but shows no signs of slowing down, as he has adjusted every season & his still improving change-up will allow him to be effective beyond what pitchers typically are.
- Jordan Zimmerman – Has spent his entire career with the Washington Nationals and has had a solid, not spectacular contract season, which could lower his contract value, think James Shields 4yr/$75 million. His advanced numbers, FIP, xFIP, WAR & BB/9 have historically been strong, would be great depth to a weak rotation (he would cost a draft pick if signed).
- Scott Kazmir – Being traded to the Astros at the deadline hinders his availability as Houston is going to work hard to prevent him from hitting free agency, but just like Zimmerman, Kazmir would provide good depth as a solid #2/3 starter. Not every pitcher on this list is going to be the #1 in a rotation but pairing together a healthy Justin Verlander with a proven starter like Kazmir provides a lot more punch than they had in 2015.
- Brett Anderson – see Scott Kazmir description but replace “Houston” with “Dodgers”
- Mike Leake – After bursting onto the scene as a rookie with the Reds way back in 2010, Leake has chugged along as a middle rotation arm that doesn’t put up flashy numbers, but if he & Greinke were signed, the Tigers rotation would be greatly improved.
- Tyler Clippard – was a closer for the Nationals in the past, a reliable, late innings arm that this bullpen desperately needs.
- Darren O’Day – Has pitched over 60 innings in each of the last 4 years for the Orioles and never had an ERA over 2.30, has been below 2.00 the last two seasons.
- Ryan Webb – could be a nice veteran that has carved out a role as a 6th/7th inning guy for a few teams. Teams that win World Series’ have trustworthy bullpen arms for the 6th inning when they are needed, Webb fits the bill.
- Neftali Feliz – the former Rangers closer has had a bad year. Signing RPs that have had past success & coming of a down year is a way to try to find some one on the cheap that is looking to rebound probably willing to sign a short contract for a low amount of money…this would be a good player to take a chance on for a 1 year contract.
- Yoenis Cespedes – The Tigers dealt Cespedes at the deadline to the New York Mets & unless they extend him before the season ends, Cespedes will be a free agent & many in Detroit want to bring him back. Cespedes has been a solid Major Leaguer his whole career & he could definitely return, I just don’t believe he will.
- Jason Heyward – This is a long shot, as Heyward usually plays RF but is athletic enough to move to LF or even be a part time CF. His defense is top notch & he has shown some growth at the plate this year. At just 26, Heyward could score the largest contract in free agency & spending a large chunk of money in the Outfield doesn’t seem like the way the Tigers could go, if Illitch is serious about spending money, they will be linked to him this winter.
- Gerardo Parra – He is a good defensive Outfielder and a left handed bat that can dominate right handed pitching. Would be a nice platoon option if the Tigers wanted to rotate more with another part time player.
As you can see, most of that list is focused on pitching, starters & relievers, with a few options to fill in the LF spot if the Tigers don’t want to go with Tyler Collins as the every day player out there.
More consistency in the line up will be needed, so adding a bat like Heyward to move to the top of the order could do that, but be assured that most of the money the Tigers spend this offseason will be on arms & not bats.