'Tis the season for Dave Dombrowski (R) to find players for Jim Leyland (L) with Mike Ilitch's (C) money.
The Detroit Tigers don't want their 2013 season to end like their 2012 season. Getting to the World Series is great and all, but winning it is even better.
The task of making sure 2012 doesn't repeat itself in 2013 falls to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski. He knows he has a contender on his hands, but he'll have to spend the winter adding and subtracting pieces to craft a championship-caliber ballclub for the coming season.
We have a pretty loose idea of what kind of moves Dombrowski has to make. The team needs help in the outfield and in its bullpen, and the starting rotation may need a new piece as well. Nothing too complicated.
As for what moves Dombrowski will make, well, that's anybody's guess.
The Tigers are sure to be at the center of many trade and free agency rumors over the next few months. To keep track of all the latest, check back here periodically for updates.
The freshest ones will be right out in front.
Posted: Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 12:10 am ET
Max Scherzer and the Tigers have resolved their differences. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, they've avoided arbitration with a one-year deal that will pay Scherzer $6.725 million in 2013.
Scherzer had filed at $7.4 million, the Tigers at $6.05 million. The salary they agreed to was the midpoint between the two bids.
The Tigers are going to get plenty of bang for their buck if Scherzer repeats what he did in 2012. He had a 3.74 ERA and a league-high 11.1 K/9 in his 32 starts, covering 187.2 innings. He had a 1.65 ERA in his last 10 starts and then pitched well in the postseason despite some nagging shoulder issues.
Scherzer is due to become a free agent after the 2014 season. That's probably when he'll be making his exit from Detroit, as the Tigers probably won't be able to afford to keep both him and Justin Verlander, who is also due to hit free agency in 2015.
Between now and then, they can rest easy knowing that they have a hell of a pitching staff.
Posted: Saturday, Feb. 2 at 4:55 pm ET
The Tigers are still weighing their options at shortstop. According to George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press, they may have "mild interest" in Cuban defector Aledmys Diaz.
That one year could potentially make a huge difference for Diaz, as teams are allowed to sign players who are 23 or older without it counting against their bonus pool. If Diaz is indeed 23, that means more interested suitors and maybe a bigger contract.
Indications are that the Tigers are going to stick with Jhonny Peralta either way. The Tigers weren't too pleased with the range he showed in 2012, but he's supposedly lost weight this offseason and has worked hard to improve his agility.
Peralta actually gets something of a bad rap about his defense. He played tremendous defense in the postseason, and he actually had a better UZR than Elvis Andrus and Brandon Crawford in 2012 (see FanGraphs). He didn't show well in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), but he should be considered at least an average defensive shortstop.
Still, the Tigers certainly need a shortstop with as much range as possible as long as they're going to stick with Miguel Cabrera at third base (which will be a while still). He has no range whatsoever, so Detroit needs a shortstop that can pick up the slack.
Diaz may not be that guy, as Badler has heard from scouts that he "doesn't have the lateral range, quickness or footwork to stay at the position."
Mild interest, indeed.
Posted: Friday, Jan. 25 at 12:25 am ET (Update below)
Now that the Arizona Diamondbacks have traded Justin Upton, they can pursue Rick Porcello. Makes perfect sense, right?
Actually, it does. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the D-Backs are looking to package shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, acquired in Thursday's trade with the Atlanta Braves, with a pitching prospect to make a deal for Porcello.
The Tigers may be interested in doing a deal like that. They don't have a long-term answer at shortstop behind Jhonny Peralta, and that's a need Ahmed would fill pretty nicely.
The book on Ahmed, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, is that he's an athletic shortstop with a good glove and a very strong arm. He's not an elite hitter, but he owns a solid .267 batting average and a .340 OBP in two seasons in the minors.
However, Ahmed hasn't made it past Single-A yet, so he may not be ready by 2014 when the Tigers will be looking for Peralta's replacement. Because of that, the pitcher Arizona is looking to package in the deal will probably have to be a good one for the Tigers to budge.
UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 25 at 3:05 pm ET
According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Tigers likely won't be making a Porcello-for-Ahmed swap. The Diamondbacks feel they no longer need a starting pitcher after acquiring Randall Delgado in Thursday's trade.
Posted: Friday, Jan. 25 at 12:35 am ET
Justin Verlander will hit free agency in two years, so now's a very good time for the Tigers to lock him up to an extension.
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, the Tigers haven't started extension talks with Verlander yet. However, he says he wants to be a Tiger for his whole career.
Even if the Tigers do approach Verlander about an extension, I wonder if he'll stall long enough for Felix Hernandez or Clayton Kershaw, who are also both due to hit free agency in 2015, to sign first and set the market.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has reported that the Seattle Mariners are mulling a four-year extension worth $100 million for King Felix, which would lock him up for the next six years at a total of $139.5 million.
If Hernandez were to accept such a deal, Verlander could ask the Tigers to one-up it. He and Hernandez are very much alike in terms of their track records, but Verlander rates as the better pitcher between the two. Over the last two years, he's won more games, pitched more innings, compiled a lower ERA, a higher ERA+, and so on and so forth.
Or Verlander could do the Tigers a favor and be the first of the big three free-agents-to-be-in-2015 to sign an extension. If he's that serious about wanting to stay in Detroit, he may just do that.
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 24 at 12:15 am ET
The Orioles have been linked to Rick Porcello before this winter, albeit in an indirect way.
Now they're being linked to him more directly. In a tweet sent out Wednesday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com noted that the Orioles are interested in trading for Porcello and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jason Kubel.
Rosenthal suggested in a full report on the situation that acquiring a starting pitcher may be Baltimore's preference, which adds up. The Orioles need an arm more than they need a bat, and Porcello is a good fit for them because of the strength of their infield defense, particularly on the left side with Manny Machado and JJ Hardy manning third and short.
Jon Morosi, also of FoxSports.com, wrote last week that the Orioles could trade closer Jim Johnson for Porcello. He'll never have more trade value than he does right now after his 51-save season, and the Tigers could bite because they need an impact closer.
A trade such as that would be a hard sell to Orioles fans, but the club would certainly be getting good value. Porcello would likely be a good pitcher for them, and he's also three years away from free agency. Johnson will be there in two years.
The Tigers presumably would understand those ramifications, but they could go ahead and do the trade anyway because they have their minds focused on their very short-term future. Johnson could help them achieve their goal of winning the World Series in 2013 better than Porcello, whose style of pitching doesn't fit the defense he has behind him.
It's just an idea, but it's one that makes sense for both clubs.
Posted: Saturday, Jan. 19 at 3:15 pm ET
The Tigers took care of a handful of loose ends on Friday, avoiding arbitration with six players.
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello all agreed to one-year contracts on Friday. The terms:
Avila will make $2.95 million, Boesch will make $2.3 million, Coke will receive $1.85 million, Jackson will make $3.5 million, Fister will get $4 million, and Porcello will receive $5.1 million.
Avila made only $510K in 2012, so he's getting a nice raise. Boesch is getting a raise over the $502.5K he made in 2012 even despite his brutal season. Coke made $1.1 million. Jackson made made $500K. Fister made $507.5K. Porcello made $3.1 million.
Cot's Baseball Contracts puts Detroit's 2013 payroll at a little under $139 million. The Tigers opened 2012 at about $133.5 million.
One player who wasn't signed on Friday is right-hander Max Scherzer. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has the numbers he and the Tigers filed for:
max scherzer files at $7.4M, #tigers file at $6.05M— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 18, 2013
Scherzer made only $3.75 million in 2012. After winning 16 games with a 3.74 ERA and a league-best 11.1 K/9, he certainly has a leg to stand on in arbitration.
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 17 at 12:50 pm ET
It turns out Don Kelly isn't finished in Detroit just yet.
The Tigers announced on Wednesday that Kelly has signed a minor league contract with the club that includes an invite to spring training.
"I had other opportunities, and there's really only one other club that I was seriously considering," said Kelly. "But at the end of the day, when you look at it, [in] Detroit, we have a chance to go back to the World Series and win it. And to have the chance to be a part of it is huge."
Kelly can't hit much, but he does bring value to the Tigers as a utility man. He can play pretty much every position on the field, and Jim Leyland certainly hasn't shied away from moving Kelly around during his tenure with the Tigers.
The Tigers had designated Kelly for assignment at the end of the season, ultimately granting him free agency.
Posted: Monday, Jan. 14 at 1:20 pm ET (Update below)
It doesn't sound like the rumored three-team trade between the Tigers, Cubs and Orioles with Rick Porcello at the center will be happening. Instead, the Tigers may do business with the Diamondbacks or the Mariners.
According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Tigers are discussing a Porcello trade with Seattle and Arizona, as well as other teams. Morosi hears that the Tigers are likely looking for a shortstop, a late-inning reliever or a righty-hitting outfielder in return for Porcello.
Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan is a possible fit, as he's a defensive wizard who could help make up for Miguel Cabrera's lack of range at third base. But since Porcello is a ground-ball pitcher, the Mariners would probably prefer to hold on to Ryan if they were to trade for him.
The Diamondbacks have a couple defensive-minded shortstops to offer in Cliff Pennington and Didi Gregorius, but both of them were acquired this winter. They also don't have a wealth of late-inning relievers, and Porcello surely won't be involved in a swap for Justin Upton.
There are deals to be made here, but the trade fits aren't immediately apparent.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 12:35 pm ET
Dbacks source made it sound like it was very unlikely that his team would acquire Rick Porcello.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) January 15, 2013
If so, it's up to you, Mariners.
Posted: Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 7:55 pm ET
Rick Porcello is still a Tiger, but that may be changing soon if things go Detroit's way.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com, the Tigers are discussing a trade with the Chicago Cubs that also involves the Baltimore Orioles. The idea for the Tigers is to acquire Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy.
In order to complete the deal, the Orioles would have to get young pitching from the Cubs. They'd also have to convince themselves that they can afford to part with Hardy with Manny Machado there to move to shortstop.
And that's the hard part. The Orioles like Hardy and Machado right where they're at, and moving Machado to short would just create a hole at third base anyway.
Plus, why should they do business with the Cubs when they can just do business with the Tigers directly? After all, the Orioles are also interested in Porcello, who would be a nice veteran upgrade for their starting rotation, which is lacking in stability.
The problem with a one-on-one swap, however, is that Porcello may not be worth Hardy. Porcello's career numbers are those of a No. 5 starter, and Hardy is one of the game's top defensive shortstops. He's also slugged 52 homers over the last two seasons.
Hardy doesn't hit free agency for two more years, during which the Orioles are aiming to contend. If they're going to trade for pitching, they'll probably do so without jettisoning one of their most important players.
Still, you can see why the Tigers want Hardy. He'd at least be a defensive upgrade over Jhonny Peralta, and would likely be an offensive upgrade as well.
If they want him, they may have to sweeten the deal, whether it involves the Cubs or not.
Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 9:15 pm ET
Right off the bat, I'll warn that there's no real rumor here. But since there's nothing going on these days, I figure what the heck.
Jason Beck of MLB.com took stock of where the Tigers stand with the new year beginning on Tuesday, and he noted that there aren't that many outstanding needs left to be taken care of. If they want, the Tigers can look a little further into the future than Opening Day, 2013.
That means they could look at an extension for righty ace Justin Verlander, whose deal is up after the 2014 season. With free agency looming in the not-so-distant future and his value as high as ever, maybe now's the time to lock him up for good.
There are several things complicating the matter. One is that the Tigers have agreed to pay Anibal Sanchez $16 million per year (on average) over the next five seasons, meaning they already have one very expensive hurler on staff. Another is that the Tigers already have two players making over $20 million per year in Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
Most troubling of all, however, is that Verlander may be inclined to wait until Clayton Kershaw and/or Felix Hernandez, who are also set to hit free agency after 2014, set the market with new deals first. Verlander could wait for them to sign and then demand at least as much or more than what they got.
If it comes to that, he could demand $30 million per year with a straight face. Hence the reason the Tigers should go hard now while Verlander's price tag is more like $25 million per year.
That's no small amount of money, to be sure, and goodness knows how much more money Verlander can make for himself off the field given his strong marketability. But since there's no such thing as loyalty in sports, it shouldn't be assumed that he'll settle for the first offer the Tigers make him this winter (assuming they even go that far).
There's no question that now is the right time for the Tigers to make a move. Exactly where things will go once they do is the big question.
Posted: Monday, Dec. 31 at 6:50 pm ET
The Tigers have been rumored to be shopping right-handed starter Rick Porcello, and various reports have claimed that the interest in him has been very high.
However, things may be changing now. In a chat with readers this past Friday, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune said that the Tigers "could be losing interest" in dealing Porcello.
If so, this could just be a case of the Tigers posturing because they haven't gotten any offers to their liking so far. Maybe they're trying to light a fire under interested parties.
But then again, maybe not. Center's words don't exactly have the feel of a planted story, so it could be that the Tigers are legitimately leaning towards keeping Porcello.
If they are, you can see where they're coming from. Their rotation is stacked with talent, but it's not overly deep. They have their big four guys, Porcello and Drew Smyly, but very little (if anything) beyond them. If they were to trade Porcello, they could find themselves wishing for the rotation depth they once had.
I still have to think that Dave Dombrowski won't hesitate to deal Porcello if the right offer comes along. But since his value is so low after a rough couple of seasons, the right offer may not be forthcoming.
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 pm ET
Two more teams have joined the hunt for Rick Porcello in the wake of the Anibal Sanchez signing.
Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com has the latest:
I can't say I'm surprised at the mention of either team, and here's why.
The Mariners just traded Jason Vargas, so they could use a capable starter to round out their starting rotation. Porcello is a good fit for them because of their infield defense, which is well above average.
The Orioles' infield defense isn't quite as strong, but they may be interested in Porcello just because they want some stability in their rotation. Stability, of course, eluded Baltimore's rotation all season long in 2012.
Between the two clubs, the Mariners have more assets to deal. Since Porcello has a few years of controllability left, the Tigers may be able to get one of Seattle's best prospects in a trade if they play their cards right.
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 11:15 pm ET
The Tigers need a closer, but they're apparently no more willing to overpay for one in a trade than they are in free agency.
#Pirates are interested in Porcello, but Tigers don't want straight-up swap for Hanrahan— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) December 19, 2012
I'd say that's pretty much a no-brainer.
It's rarely a good idea to trade a starter for a reliever, and it's a particularly bad idea in this case. Hanrahan was human in 2012, and he's a free agent at the end of the 2013 season.
Porcello was no better in 2012, but he's got the goods to be a decent starter and he doesn't hit free agency for another three years.
So if this trade were to go down, there would be a heck of a lot more value headed to Pittsburgh than there would be coming to Detroit.
If the Pirates want Porcello, they need to give the Tigers more than just Hanrahan.
Posted: Monday, Dec. 17 at 10:05 pm ET
The Tigers can trade a starting pitcher now that they've re-signed Anibal Sanchez. The general consensus appears to be that they're most likely to deal Rick Porcello.
But it could be Drew Smyly instead. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says the Tigers are taking calls on him as well:
Tigers are taking calls on Smyly as well as Porcello. Not committed to trading either one, but with tons of interest, I'm guessing one goes.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 18, 2012
Smyly put up decent numbers in his rookie season, going 4-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 23 appearances, including 18 starts. He had a sparkly 1.59 ERA through his first six starts.
Smyly does have youth, controllability and left-handedness going for him, but starting pitching-needy teams may prefer Porcello anyway. He's considerably more experienced, and the numbers below the numbers suggest pretty strongly that his ground ball habits would play very well on a team other than the Tigers.
The Tigers may prefer to hold on to Porcello, though. He's not an ace on their staff, but hes a more sure thing for the No. 5 hole in their rotation than Smyly is.
Posted: Monday, Dec. 17 at 6:25 pm ET
There's an update to pass along that doesn't necessarily mean anything. But since it's a slow news day, what the heck?
According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, it didn't take long for teams to start calling about Rick Porcello after Anibal Sanchez was signed:
Next up for the Tigers: Trading Rick Porcello. I'm told they had almost a dozen calls within 3 hours of news of Sanchez deal.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 17, 2012
So there's that. Exciting stuff.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but it simply makes too much sense that Porcello is such a hot commodity on the trade market. Front offices around the league are big into sabermetrics, and the key stats all say that he's the wrong guy on the wrong team.
Porcello's control and ability to rack up ground balls would make him a solid No. 3 starter on another team with a quality defensive infield. The Angels and Rangers are two good fits, and it just so happens that both clubs have been rumored to be interested in Porcello.
Given the amount of interest in Porcello, the Tigers would be foolish not to trade him in the near future.
Posted: Monday, Dec. 17 at 12:40 pm ET
It's official. Anibal Sanchez is going to be a Tiger for the next five years.
Actually, he may be a Tiger for the next six years when all is said and done. Here's Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com with the latest:
#Tigers announce that their deal with Anibal Sanchez is official. Five years, $80M plus a club option for 2018.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 17, 2012
The option year is something new. One figured that it was the money that convinced Sanchez to choose the Tigers over the Cubs, but perhaps the option year played a role as well.
By the time the 2018 season comes around, starting pitchers will probably be making even more absurd amounts of money than they are now. If Sanchez is still pitching well, the Tigers could be very glad they thought to tack on the option year.
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 16 at 2:05 pm ET
After re-signing Anibal Sanchez to an $80 million contract, the Tigers don't have a ton of room on their payroll for Rafael Soriano.
That could change if Mike Ilitch wants it to...but Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says not to count on it:
Tigers people still fairly certain that Mike Ilitch won't be talked into Soriano. Ilitch was driving force behind $80 mill for Anibal.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 15, 2012
Elsewhere, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wrote that it's still possible that Soriano could end up in Detroit, but that the Tigers are "keeping their distance."
The money isn't the only thing that could keep Soriano out of a Tigers uniform. Now that the Tigers have a slight starting pitching surplus, they may be able to trade a starter for a shutdown reliever. Most likely, Rick Porcello is the guy to go.
If the choice is between trading for a shutdown reliever and paying Soriano $15 million per year, you have to think that the Tigers are more likely to walk through Door No. 1 after the Sanchez signing.
Posted: Saturday, Dec. 15 at 10:40 pm ET
The Angels and Tigers made the two biggest signings of the offseason this week. Before long, they could be trade partners.
According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the Angels have been in contact with the Tigers about right-hander Rick Porcello. Conceivably, he could be dealt for Peter Bourjos, who doesn't fit in the Angels' outfield with Josh Hamilton now in the mix.
On the Tigers, Bourjos could be a right-handed platoon partner with Andy Dirks. Likewise, Porcello would fit a lot better on the Angels than he does on the Tigers. He'd have a better infield defense behind him, and he'd be pitching in a much more pitcher-friendly ballpark.
The Angels aren't the only team interested in Porcello, though, which is good news for the Tigers. The Rangers are also looking at him, as are the Twins, Royals and Pirates. The Tigers thus may be able to start a bidding war for Porcello.
Now that Anibal Sanchez is back, the smart money is on Porcello getting moved.
Posted: Friday, Dec. 14 at 9:15 pm ET
The Tigers have retained a top starting pitcher in Anibal Sanchez, but they still don't have an obvious replacement for Jose Valverde in the ninth inning.
However, Rosenthal has heard that the Tigers are wary of Hanrahan's salary. He made $4.1 million in 2012, and is due a raise in arbitration this winter.
It's understandable that the Tigers would be worried about the money. They just paid $80 million to retain Sanchez, roughly $5 million more than his market value. With Torii Hunter also coming aboard this winter, Detroit's payroll could be even higher in 2013 than it was in 2012.
Plus, Hanrahan is only a year away from free agency, so there's at least a chance that he would be nothing more than a rental for the Tigers.
Still, nothing should be put past the Tigers now. If Mike Ilitch likes what he sees when he looks at Hanrahan, he'll tell Dave Dombrowski to go get him.
And hey, he'd certainly be cheaper than Rafael Soriano.
Posted: Friday, Dec. 14 at 2:20 pm ET
With Anibal Sanchez agreeing to re-sign with the Tigers, they now have an excuse to trade one of their starting pitchers if they so desire.
That means you, Rick Porcello. He's been reported to be available, and Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com indicates that interest is heating up:
Will be interesting to see where the Tigers trade Porcello. Lots of interest from NL teams, but also heard Rangers as a possiblity.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 14, 2012
The Rangers most certainly should be a possibility. Any team with a good defensive infield should be interested in Porcello, and the Rangers have an excellent defensive infield.
They're also a team the Tigers could do business with, as the Rangers are fairly loaded with attractive trade assets. Porcello won't land them any of the big ones (Elvis Andrus, Mike Olt, et al), but he could land them a solid player who they could use.
Regardless of who they deal him for, trading Porcello is the right thing for the Tigers to do. He's not a fit for them, and he's expendable now with Sanchez coming back. There's no point in holding on to him so long as the interest is out there.
Posted: Friday, Dec. 14 at 12:00 pm ET
Mike Ilitch has proved once again that money is no object when it comes to preparing his Tigers to win the World Series.
He's not coming cheap, but Bob Nightengale of the USA Today has reported that the Tigers have agreed to re-sign right-hander Anibal Sanchez:
Agent Gene Mato Sanchez agrees to 5 year,$80 million deal w #Tigers— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 14, 2012
Not bad for a guy who made just $8 million in 2012. In fact, had it not been for his tenure with the Tigers, Sanchez likely wouldn't have made even $10 million per year in a new contract this winter.
I'd say that the Tigers are overpaying Sanchez slightly more than slightly (if that's a thing), but the fact that he's returning at all is a win for them. From the beginning of September on into the postseason, the Tigers' starting rotation was practically unhittable. Sanchez definitely played his part, posting a 2.43 ERA in September and then contributing three excellent starts in the playoffs.
The Tigers already were the best team in the AL Central and in the discussion for the 2013 World Series. With Sanchez coming back, Tigers fans have every right to expect a return to the Fall Classic.
After all, that's basically what Ilitch is promising with this move.
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 6:40 pm ET (Updates below)
The Tigers have officially lost Anibal Sanchez.
Or maybe they haven't. It's hard to tell.
And the #Cubs turn out to be the second mystery team of the day, reaching agreement on five-year deal with Anibal Sanchez— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 13, 2012
So there's that. But then there's this from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com:
anibal's agent Gene Mato said he's still talking to other teams. #tigers have been involved all winter, like cubs— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 13, 2012
It could be that Nightengale jumped the gun on this one. Or it could be that the Cubs' offer to Sanchez is legit and he's just giving the Tigers a last chance to match it.
If so, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com says that the price to beat is $75 million, or $15 million per year. That's right about what Sanchez was expected to get, and it may be too rich for the Tigers.
But that's up to Mike Ilitch, and his pockets are known to go deeper than expected.
UPDATE: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 pm ET
Things are getting mighty interesting. Here's this from Bob Nightengale:
"Bumped their offer" could mean one of several different things.
The Tigers were said to have offered Sanchez four years and $48 million earlier this offseason, so it could be that they've bumped their offer up from that. If so, it could be that they've gone ahead and matched Chicago's offer, which could return Sanchez to Detroit.
Or it could be that the Tigers are still somewhere under Chicago's offer. On the flip side, they could be over Chicago's offer.
Stay tuned. This is good stuff.
UPDATE No. 2: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 9:20 pm ET
Here's another update from Bob Nightengale that should have Tigers fans feeling optimistic:
The indication here is that the Cubs will not get to make a counter-offer. Sanchez is Detroit's to lose.
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 5:40 pm ET
There's at least one team out there that's willing to strike a deal for Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch.
According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Tigers and Seattle Mariners have had "preliminary talks" about a deal that would send Boesch to Seattle. Morosi thinks the Tigers could seek left-handed pitching in return for Boesch, though no deal is close.
This may be because Boesch is not a primary target for the Mariners. He's a "secondary possibility," to be pursued seriously only if Seattle's other outfield targets don't pan out.
One of those is Josh Hamilton. Suffice it to say that trying for Hamilton only to end up with Boesch would be...well, not so great.
But that's not Detroit's concern. The Tigers just have to be happy to have a buyer on the line for Boesch after he managed just a .659 OPS in 132 games in 2012. With Torii Hunter in right field and Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia down to platoon in left field, there's really no place for Boesch in Detroit.
If Dave Dombrowski really wants to prove his wits, he'll turn Boesch into Felix Hernandez. If he does, all glory to the Hypno-GM.
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 3:30 pm ET
As long as Anibal Sanchez remains unsigned, the Tigers do not have a surplus of starting pitchers. They very much need all the guys they currently have.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says that teams are asking about young right-hander Rick Porcello anyway. In particular, National League clubs are sending the most interest Detroit's way.
This isn't the first time Porcello has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate this winter, and the idea still makes sense. Porcello is a good buy-low option after the rough year he just had, and he's worth taking a chance on because of his youth and because of his ability to generate ground balls.
Per FanGraphs, Porcello's ground-ball percentage has increased each of the last three years (his K rate has also steadily increased). That's typically a good sign, but more ground balls isn't necessarily a recipe for success in Detroit given the weakness of the club's infield defense.
A team with a stronger infield defense would do well to acquire Porcello. He's probably never going to be an ace, but he could emerge as a solid No. 3 pitcher if he were to be put on the right team.
But for now, there's more pressure on the Tigers to bring starting pitching in rather than send it out. They apparently still want to bring Sanchez back, and Knobler has reported that the Tigers made a spirited run at James Shields before he was dealt to the Kansas City Royals.
Be this as it may, you wonder if Dave Dombrowski realizes that Porcello isn't the best fit for the roster he's constructed. One idea would be to deal him for another young starter who seems to be in the wrong place.
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 3:30 pm ET
Before James Shields became a member of the Kansas City Royals, he almost became a member of the Detroit Tigers.
OK, that's probably a stretch. But according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the Tigers did at least try to acquire Shields in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays at the last minute before he was dealt to the Royals.
Alas, their offer of Avisail Garcia and other prospects for Shields proved to be insufficient. Given how well the Rays did in their deal with the Royals, it's safe to say they made the right call.
To be honest, I'm not sure I buy that the Tigers actually thought they had a shot at getting Shields. Jumping in at the last minute with an offer of Garcia and others could have just been an attempt to block Shields from going to the Royals. It could have also been an attempt to raise Tampa Bay's asking price.
If so, then Dave Dombrowski could be the one truly responsible for the large price Dayton Moore paid to get Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays.
More likely, though, Moore just got outfoxed by Andrew Friedman. Not that there's any shame in that...
Posted: Monday, Dec. 10 at 6:50 pm ET
The Tigers have taken care of their need for a backup catcher. The club announced on Monday that it has agreed to sign former Kansas City Royal Brayan Pena to a one-year deal.
"We are pleased to add an experienced catcher like Brayan Pena to our club," said Dave Dombrowski said in a statement. "As a switch-hitter, he will serve as a solid complement to Alex Avila as our backup catcher for the 2013 season."
Pena hit .236/.262/.321 with two home runs for the Royals in 2012. He's only a .248/.286/.350 hitter for his career, though he does tend to play solid defense behind the plate.
In a corresponding move, the Tigers designated left-hander Matt Hoffman for assignment to make room for Pena on the 40-man roster. Hoffman has been in Detroit's system since 2008, but has yet to reach the major leagues. He had a 3.69 ERA in 43 appearances for Triple-A Toledo in 2012.
I'd say the Tigers' chances of winning the AL Central again just got better.
By like, maybe half a hair.
Posted: Friday, Dec. 7 at 1:00 pm ET
Perhaps Detroit's talk of trusting Bruce Rondon to be its closer is just a ruse.
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Tigers are trolling the trade market for late-inning relief help:
Detroit has been targeting relievers capable of closing in trade talks.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 7, 2012
OK, a couple thoughts here.
If the Tigers really do want to trade for a reliever, there are plenty of options out there, including Chris Perez and Joel Hanrahan. Goodness knows how many other guys with closer-type stuff are out there (Vinnie Pestano FTW!).
But this could also be a sign that the Tigers actually do want to sign Rafael Soriano, and that they're just trying to prove to Scott Boras that they have other options.
If so, that's not a bad idea. Boras doesn't have that many options for Soriano, but the Tigers are by far the most obvious suitor and Boras has indicated that he really wants them to sign his client. The Tigers could make his day, or they could wait him out and go after Soriano when they're good and ready.
I'll say this: If the Tigers do trade for a late-inning stud and thus solidify their bullpen, Boras isn't going to be happy. After the Tigers, the list of potential suitors for Soriano is awfully iffy.
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 12:40 pm ET
Scott Boras seems to be having a hard time finding a home for free-agent closer Rafael Soriano. So much so that he all but begged the Tigers to sign Soriano at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday.
Boras held court with reporters at Nashville's Opryland Hotel, and somebody asked him what he thought about the Tigers' apparent lukewarm (at best) interest in his client.
“I think the Tigers’ position is one where they’re trying to put together their best team and they haven’t made those decisions yet," he said, via Jason Beck of MLB.com.
Translation: They're fools who are missing out.
The Tigers haven't come out and said that they don't want Soriano, but a Tigers official recently told Peter Gammons that a deal isn't happening. Furthermore, they seem perfectly comfortable giving hard-throwing prospect Bruce Rondon a chance to earn the job.
Boras had some thoughts about that too:
It’s a philosophical cliff in baseball that you can bring Minor League talent to the big leagues and know what you’ve got. The evidence says that there are many young players in our game that are 20, 21 that can hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs and they’re extraordinary talents. Or win 15 games. But there’s never been closers that can come in and get 30 saves. I think you count on one hand the number of closers under the age of 23 that have ever gone to the big leagues and at a young age put together 30 saves, let alone pitch in the postseason and be effective.
The translation here: Kids can't close.
Craig Kimbrel says hello. So does Neftali Feliz. Jonathan Papelbon did OK a few years back. And so on.
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 9:40 pm ET
The Tigers made a trade today. Thought you should know.
Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has the deets:
#Pirates trade C Ramon Cabrera to Tigers for LHP Andrew Oliver.— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) December 5, 2012
Oliver didn't pitch in the majors in 2012, posting a 4.88 ERA in 28 appearances for Triple-A Toledo. Cabrera posted a .713 OPS in 113 games between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis.
Oliver was a top prospect not too long ago, and Cabrera won a batting title with High-A Bradenton in 2011. He could eventually become a candidate to become Detroit's backup catcher. Oliver will look to get his career back on track in the Pirates organization.
That's pretty much all you need to know. Off you go.
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 5:40 pm ET
You get the sense that Anibal Sanchez's asking price is only getting higher rather than lower, and that's not good news for the Tigers.
Still, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says they're watching and waiting anyway:
Tigers in holding pattern now, waiting to see if Sanchez price ever drops back to what they'd be willing to pay. They know that's unlikely.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 5, 2012
The price for Sanchez was once said to be somewhere around $90 million, but it's probably closer to $100 million at this point. Maybe even over.
There was a report recently that the Tigers only offered Sanchez four years and $48 million. It was refuted, but it wouldn't be a surprise if that's precisely how much they're willing and able to spend on Sanchez.
The Tigers already have $110 million in salaries committed for 2013, and they opened 2012 at around $133 million. If they don't plan on going much higher than that, they may as well count themselves out of the running for Sanchez.
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 3:15 pm ET
Everyone and their uncle wants the Tigers to sign Rafael Soriano to be their closer. Seems that way, anyway.
There haven't been many legit rumors linking Soriano to the Tigers, but the speculation has persisted all the same. Just yesterday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post became the latest to caution not to rule out a union between Soriano and the reigning AL champs:
#Tigers people continue to insist not even talking about Rafael Soriano. Wild card is always Ilitch who was great relationship with Boras— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 3, 2012
To which many no doubt responded: "Won't somebody please put an end to this madness!"
Here comes Peter Gammons of the MLB Network to the rescue:
Tiger official:"Soriano ain't happening with us"— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) December 4, 2012
So there's that. Whoever this official is, he or she has apparently heard that the club's interest in handing the closer's job to Bruce Rondon is no smokescreen.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: I like the idea of experimenting with Rondon. He has a triple-digits fastball and an imposing presence on the mound. All he needs is some control, and he'll be a dandy of a closer.
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 12:50 pm ET
Unlike with the Angels and Zack Greinke, it seems the Tigers are still very much willing to re-sign free agent starter Anibal Sanchez.
However, they're not alone. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported today that there are at least six teams in pursuit of the right-hander, including a mystery team:
Ah, the good old "mystery team." Odds are that's the team Sanchez will end up with in the end.
The Tigers are in a tough spot here. There's already been one report that they low-balled Sanchez with their first offer, and now his price tag is only going to climb higher with so many teams interested in signing him.
The signs point towards Sanchez becoming a $100 million pitcher this winter, and a contract like that is probably too rich for the Tigers.
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 12:45 pm ET
The Tigers may have a potential suitor for right fielder Brennan Boesch in the northwest.
Yes, Mariners interested in Hamilton. On much lower level, also interested in Brennan Boesch.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 4, 2012
If true, there's some interesting thinking going on in Seattle. Something alone the lines of, "Hey, if we can't get that guy who hit 43 homers with a .930 OPS, we could always go get that guy who hit 12 homers with a .659 OPS!"
The obvious appeal where Boesch is concerned is that he'd come cheap, both in terms of money and in terms of what the Mariners would have to give up in a trade. Boesch made barely over $500,000 in 2012, and he's a good buy-low candidate after his disastrous season.
The Mariners are rich in talented prospects, but it's highly unlikely that any of them would go to Detroit in a Boesch trade. The Tigers would be more likely to land an expendable piece or two from Seattle's major league roster that they could plug into their own plans right away.
Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 6:15 pm ET
The Tigers are looking for a righty-hitting outfielder who they could platoon with Andy Dirks in left field. Somebody like Scott Hairston would be perfect.
According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Tigers figured the same thing:
#Tigers have offered two-year contract to Scott Hairston, source says.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2012
Alas, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com came right back with this:
Told Scott Hairston will not be a Tiger.— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) December 3, 2012
Evidently, Hairston didn't like the contract the Tigers offered him. Or maybe he just doesn't like Detroit. Or Dave Dombrowski's face.
Whatever it is, Rubin sounds pretty sure. And if this is indeed true, then it's a darn shame for the Tigers. Hairston would have been a good grab, as he's a versatile outfielder who hit a career-high 20 homers with a career-high .803 OPS in 2012. He had an .867 OPS against left-handed pitchers.
Oh well. This is a case where there are plenty more fish in the sea.
UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 3 at 10:10 pm ET
And then this happened, from the Detroit Free Press:
Dombrowski said the Tigers haven't offer a multi-year deal to any free-agent outfielders.— Freep Tigers (@freeptigers) December 4, 2012
Maybe this is why Hairston won't be a Tiger.
Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 1:05 pm ET
The Tigers want to retain right-handed starter Anibal Sanchez, but it's sounding more and more like it's not going to happen.
It's not even certain whether the Tigers have offered Sanchez a contract. And if they have, it's uncertain what the parameters of the contract are.
There are conflicting reports out on Monday. Here's the first from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com:
#tigers a few weeks ago offered anibal sanchez $48M, 4 yrs. Agent told them that offer would insult anibal. Seeks 90M/6— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 3, 2012
But not so fast. Jason Beck of MLB.com came out and contradicted Heyman's report:
#Tigers still talking with agent for Anibal Sanchez. Source says 4-yr, $48 million offer not accurate.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) December 3, 2012
So then, whose word should be taken here?
I'm inclined to give Heyman the benefit of the doubt. He's generally a pretty accurate source for rumors, and this may be a case where the Tigers are trying to speak through Beck. He does technically work for the league, after all.
But I suppose it doesn't matter either way. Even if Sanchez doesn't get the six-year, $90 million contract he's seeking, he'll surely do better than $48 million over four years in this market.
If the Tigers want to keep him, they'll have to be way more aggressive.
Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 12:55 pm ET
Remember those reports about the Tigers possibly being in the mix for free agent shortstop Stephen Drew?
I wouldn't put too much stock into those right now. The word from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com is that the Tigers have "cooled" on Drew upon learning that he is seeking a multi-year contract.
Elsewhere, the Tigers have not discussed a trade with the Cleveland Indians regarding shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Even if they were to contact the Indians about Cabrera, Morosi noted on Twitter that Cabrera has the Tigers on his no-trade list.
So it sounds like Jhonny Peralta is safe as the club's starting shortstop after all. The notion of the Tigers replacing him had to be taken seriously due to Peralta's poor performance at the plate in 2012—he finished with a .239/.305/.384 slash line—but their options lack appeal.
Instead, Rosenthal and Morosi say the Tigers are looking for a lefty reliever and a righty hitter to platoon in left field with Andy Dirks, a left-handed hitter.
Both targets make sense. The Tigers do have Phil Coke still in their bullpen, but they non-tendered Daniel Schlereth last week and he's probably not going to be back. Finding a lefty specialist to replace him is in their interest.
The Tigers could just choose to go with Avisail Garcia as Dirks' platoon partner. The fact that they're considering external options is a sign that they don't have an abundance of faith in Garcia's ability to handle regular duty.
Either that, or they don't want to let his talents go to waste in a platoon situation.
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8:20 pm ET
You'll have to forgive me for being a little late to the party on this one (I was out of town this weekend), but the Tigers non-tendered lefty reliever Daniel Schlereth on Friday.
Schlereth only appeared in six games with the Tigers in 2012, giving up 10 runs (eight earned) in seven innings. He experienced problems with his left shoulder in early April that ultimately led to his season being cut short.
Still, he said he didn't expect to be non-tendered.
"I just never thought this would happen," he said. "This blindsided me."
Schlereth could return to the Tigers on a minor league deal, but indications are that he'll choose to seek employment elsewhere. Because he held left-handed hitters to a .529 OPS when he was healthy in 2011, he may be able to find a job with a team in desperate need of a solid situational lefty.
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 8:10 pm ET
It was reported recently that Tigers owner Mike Ilitch had spoken to super-agent Scott Boras about Rafael Soriano. Just like that, the notion of the Tigers being the team to eventually cave in to Soriano's contract demands had some legs.
But maybe not. Here's a scoop from Lynn Henning of The Detroit News:
Just got off phone with Dombrowski. Made it clear Tigers are NOT shopping for a closer. Will go to camp giving Rondon every shot to win job.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) November 29, 2012
If so, then Soriano is out of the question. It sounds like the Tigers are going to address a rather major area of need for cheap, for a change.
I'm in favor of the idea. It's easy to fall into the "proven closer" trap, and any team that does runs the risk of getting burned. The Heath Bell contract comes to mind.
Grooming Bruce Rondon for the job isn't a bad idea. With an explosive fastball and an intimidating presence on the mound, he appears destined to become one of baseball's next great closers. If he pans out, he'll be dominating at a fraction of the money that Soriano is likely to make in his next contract.
For what it's worth, you could say the same thing in regards to Brian Wilson, who was recently non-tendered by the San Francisco Giants. ESPN's Buster Olney floated his name as a possible option for the Tigers.
Signing him wouldn't be a bad idea given the circumstances, but Wilson may not be willing to come to Detroit if the Tigers really are committed to Rondon. He's probably on the lookout for a chance to be a club's default closer.
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 29 at 1:10 am ET
By the time the postseason rolled around, Rick Porcello was the forgotten man in the Tigers' starting rotation.
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Porcello may not be a member of Detroit's rotation for much longer. The Tigers have let other teams know that they're willing to listen to offers for Porcello.
So then, how much interest could there possibly be in a guy who posted a 4.59 ERA and gave up a league-high 226 hits in 2012?
Maybe quite a bit, actually. Porcello had a rough year in 2012, but the numbers suggest he's just a bad fit for the Tigers. He's more of a contact pitcher who specializes in racking up ground balls, and that's not a recipe for success with an infield that features the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
Porcello could be successful on another team with a better infield defense. The Angels come to mind, and it sounds like they're going to need some starting pitching in the near future with Zack Greinke being priced out of their range.
Porcello would be a good buy-low candidate for just about any club. It wouldn't be a shock if the Tigers found a taker for him fairly soon.
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 1:25 pm ET
Brennan Boesch didn't pan out the way the Tigers were hoping he would this season. After posting a .799 OPS in 2011, he managed just a .659 OPS in 2012.
With Torii Hunter in to patrol right field for the Tigers, Boesch is expendable. Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com reports that he is drawing some trade interest from other teams:
Brennan Boesch has garnered trade interest from multiple teams. One source believes Boesch could be dealt during winter meetings. #Tigers— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 28, 2012
Not exactly surprising. Boesch is still relatively young at 27 years old, and he's a good buy-low candidate. Plus, it's not like the Tigers have a ton of incentive to keep him.
Elsewhere, Morosi says the Tigers' interest in free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew is alive and well:
If the Tigers end up signing Drew, they'll have an excuse to trade Jhonny Peralta. Because a number of teams have been reported to be interested in him, they could get a nice return for him.
Much could be resolved at the Winter Meetings next week. Stay tuned.
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 6:40 pm ET
Ever since Rafael Soriano opted out of his contract with the Yankees, writers and fans have viewed him as a possible fit for the Tigers.
Alas, speculation is all there's been. There's been plenty of talk, but few real rumors.
Via Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, Peter Gammons said something rather interesting on MLB Network on Tuesday:
So there's that. Ilitch just endured a season in which his star closer was a constant source of frustration, but now it seems he's interested in another star closer.
I'm skeptical about the idea of the Tigers going after Soriano, but it's not hard to see the appeal. He just saved 42 games despite not taking over as the Yankees' closer until May. At the very least, he'd certainly be an upgrade over Jose Valverde.
Soriano supposedly wants $60 million, an arm and a leg spread out over four years in his next contract, which is a lot of money for any team to pay for a mere reliever. The Tigers already have over $110 million in salaries committed for 2013, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, so it may be asking a lot for them to fit a contract for Soriano into their plans.
But ultimately, it's Ilitch's call, and he doesn't have to make a great business decision. It's pretty clear he just wants to win, whatever the cost.
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 3:55 pm ET
For a while there, it seemed unlikely that the Tigers would pick up Jhonny Peralta's $6 million option for the 2013 season. He ultimately made it clear he was worth it by doing well at both the plate and in the field during the postseason.
But in the event that the Tigers decide they should trade Peralta this winter, they apparently have at least one potential trade partner out there. Here's the latest from Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com:
Diamondbacks have shown interest in Jhonny Peralta. But Tigers won't trade him unless/until they get someone better at shortstop.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) November 20, 2012
Kinda random, I know, but there it is.
I have a hard time seeing this happening. The free-agent market is pretty weak at the shortstop position, and the Tigers don't have much incentive to trade Peralta given how reasonable his salary is. Plus, they know they're going to get some halfway decent production at the plate out of him, and he's actually better than he gets credit for on defense.
Plus, the Diamondbacks just traded for defensive whiz Cliff Pennington, so something tells me they're not desperate enough to overpay for Peralta.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6:20 pm ET
Hold the phones. Here's an interesting rumor from Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio:
Tigers working on signing Stephen Drew to play SS then would trade Peralta to Arizona or Boston— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 20, 2012
This is a fascinating notion, but I have to ask: Is Stephen Drew really better than Jhonny Peralta? His great season in 2008 is a distant memory at this point, and he's coming off a year in which he managed a .657 OPS with the Diamondbacks and Oakland A's. Even after he started playing well in Oakland, he still only managed a .707 OPS.
The Tigers could just be willing to make the switch because Drew would be cheaper. If so, I don't think I'll be a big fan of the switch for the Tigers if this actually goes down.
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 1:50 pm ET
Remember that time Ryan Raburn was a quietly productive player?
Here's a hint: It was before he posted a .480 OPS in 66 games with the big club in 2012. This past season was not full of fun times for Raburn.
And now he has to look for employment elsewhere. Here's the latest from Tigers Director of Media Relations, Brian Britten:
Tigers outright contract of RHP Tyler Stohr to Triple A Toledo. Detroit has released INF/OF Ryan Raburn. #tigers— Brian Britten (@BBritten_Tigers) November 20, 2012
So just like that, the Tigers are officially in the market for a new super utility man.
Such a shame. Raburn opened a lot of eyes in 2009 when he posted an .891 OPS and hit 16 homers in 113 games, and he compiled a .771 OPS and hit 29 homers between 2010 and 2011. He did so while playing virtually every position on the field.
But his bubble burst in a horrid way this season. In addition to his .480 OPS, Raburn managed only one home run and saw his BABIP tumble 100 points from where it was in 2011. Throw in a couple of DL stints, and you have one very tough year.
Raburn's versatility is likely to get him a job somewhere else, most likely in the National League. Wherever he signs, though, he'll have some serious redeeming to do.
Posted: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 5:05 pm ET
The Tigers filled their hole in right field by signing Torii Hunter. He'll be a significant defensive upgrade and a fine No. 2 hitter, so hats go off to Dave Dombrowski for bringing him aboard.
Now that right field is taken care of, how about left field?
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, Dombrowski isn't ruling out the possibility of adding a righty-hitting outfielder to platoon with Andy Dirks in left field.
“My instinct,” Dombrowski said, “is that we would add somebody that could hit from the right-hand side that, if those guys don’t make it, could go out there and play with Dirks. But we’ll wait and see.”
The Tigers do have Avisail Garcia and Nick Castellanos, but Dombrowski said he doesn't want to waste either of them as platoon players. As he put it, "you don’t want them to come in here and play 40 games versus left-handed pitching."
If a platoon player is all Dombrowski is looking for, then you can probably rule out Cody Ross. The Tigers have been rumored to be looking at him, but he doesn't make much sense. They're more likely to go for guys like Matt Diaz, Austin Kearns, Xavier Nady or even Jason Bay, just to name a few (and this is just me speculating).
Elsewhere, Dombrowski said he would be "fine" with Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly rounding out the club's rotation. That's a sign that the club won't panic if Anibal Sanchez isn't retained.
It seems probable that he won't be retained, as he's getting to be really expensive and the Tigers' payroll is already pretty high.
As for the club's closer role, Dombrowski has hinted pretty strongly that minor league right-hander Bruce Rondon is going to end up getting the job. However, Beck says Dombrowski didn't rule out a move.
He's just keeping his options open. It's been suggested that Rafael Soriano could be in play for the Tigers, but that's probably not going to happen. It's been reported that they're not interested in him.
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 15 at 12:20 am ET
The Tigers have signed Torii Hunter, so they can consider their need in right field taken care of. They're also getting a very good No. 2 hitter, so that need is taken care of as well.
So...The Tigers are all done with their outfield, right?
Maybe not. ESPN's Jim Bowden says they're looking at Cody Ross:
Ross could conceivably play left field alongside Austin Jackson in center and Hunter in right, but do the Tigers really need him?
No they don't. They have Andy Dirks and Quintin Berry at their disposal, either of whom would be acceptable options at the bottom of the lineup and both of whom would be much cheaper than Ross.
Should the Tigers want Ross?
No they shouldn't. He hit .298 with a .565 slugging percentage at Fenway Park in 2012, but just .232 with a .684 OPS on the road. Take the Green Monster away from him, and he's nothing special.
I'm guessing the Tigers will choose to pass on Ross now that they have Hunter. They certainly should, anyway.
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 1:00 pm ET
Well, that happened quickly.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Tigers have agreed to sign Torii Hunter to a two-year contract:
Torii to #Tigers. Two-year agreement, pending physical.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 14, 2012
Bob Nightengale of USA Today has the financial terms:
Hunter will get $26 million— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 14, 2012
In a full report on the signing, Rosenthal noted that the deal is pending a physical.
This had to happen. Hunter was the best fit for any team looking for a short-term solution in right field, and he and the Tigers were a match made in heaven because they're both desperate to win the World Series.
Beyond that, Hunter will be the No. 2 hitter that Jim Leyland never had in 2012. He's coming off a season in which he hit .343 with an .854 OPS when batting out of the No. 2 spot, and he could form the same kind of tandem with Austin Jackson that he did with Mike Trout.
Jackson and Hunter will also be a killer defensive duo in the outfield. Jackson is one of the best in the business in center field, and Hunter has made the transition over to right field with no trouble at all.
I think the Tigers are going to pay Hunter about $6 million more than he's worth in his new deal, but that's OK. They're in a position to overspend at the moment, and a two-year deal doesn't carry much risk for them.
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 12:45 pm ET
In a span of a few days, the Tigers have gone from being somewhat in the background in the Torii Hunter sweepstakes to being right in the thick of the chase. In fact, Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio says that they're currently viewed as the favorites to land the veteran outfielder.
And now it sounds like something could happen between the two sides in the near future. Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com has the latest:
OK, does anybody want to be the guy who says this shouldn't happen?
Me neither. Fits don't get much more perfect than this.
The Tigers need a right fielder, and Hunter is an excellent right fielder. The Tigers need a righty hitter who could possibly step in and bat second, and that's a role Hunter excelled at in 2012. The Tigers want to win, and he wants to win.
And for what it's worth, Morosi noted in a full report on the situation that going to Detroit would put Hunter closer to South Bend, Indiana. Seeing as how his son recently committed to play football at Notre Dame, Detroit is thus something of an ideal location.
It won't be cheap for the Tigers to sign Hunter, but the possibility exists that they be able to get him at a discounted rate. They can offer him a legit shot at a ring, which is something that few other teams can offer. Since Hunter has already made well over $100 million in his career, he may agree to play for less if the potential payoff is a ring at the end of it all.
Either way, this seriously needs to happen.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 4:40 pm ET
The meeting apparently went quite well. According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, Hunter has decided that Detroit is the place he wants to be.
"He wants to play there," said a source who had spoken with Hunter.
Knobler also notes that the Tigers "badly" want to sign Hunter, who they view as a perfect fit for their lineup and their outfield.
Indications already were that Detroit was the right place for Hunter. Now you have to think it may be just a matter of time before he signs on the dotted line.
UPDATE No. 2: Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 1:45 am ET
Here's an additional update from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick:
Torii Hunter left Detroit visit with no deal & no formal offer, but several officials still see #tigers as frontrunner for him.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 14, 2012
So no deal or no offer, but the vibes are still good for the Tigers.
Posted: Sunday, Nov. 11 at 10:40 pm ET
The Tigers could use an outfielder, preferably one with a good bat, a good glove and a good personality.
Torii Hunter would do quite nicely, and the word from Dylan Hernandez and Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times is that the Tigers apparently came to the same conclusion. They've spoken to Hunter's agent.
That's about as far as this rumor goes. All we know besides the teams that have been in contact with Hunter's agent is that he's supposedly looking for a multi-year deal.
The Tigers could be the team to give him the contract he's seeking. He'd be a good fit for them in right field, as he could combine with Austin Jackson to make Detroit's outfield defense one of its primary strengths.
Hunter's bat would also come in handy. The No. 2 spot in the batting order was a source of frustration for Jim Leyland for pretty much the entire season in 2012, so he'd no doubt love to have a guy who hit .343 with an .854 OPS when batting second for the Angels this past season.
Plus, the Tigers need an offensive upgrade in right field no matter which spot in the lineup is in play. Tigers right fielders managed a mere .641 OPS in 2012.
Hunter has no shortage of suitors at the moment, but he could be drawn to the Tigers out of a desire to win a ring in 2013. There may not be a better team for him to join than the defending AL champions.
UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 12 at 12:45 pm ET
The Tigers may have more of an interest in Hunter than it first appeared.
According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, the Tigers are "very interested" in Hunter. Since he wants to sign somewhere quickly, it's possible he could be a Tiger before you know it.
They'll have to make him a competitive offer, though. Hunter may have more suitors than any other player on the free-agent market, and the Tigers aren't the only interested party that can offer him a chance to win.
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 6:15 pm ET
Now this is just plain cool.
ESPN's Buster Olney reported a few days ago that former Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman was looking to make a comeback in the major leagues after more than two full years away from baseball, and Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com has reported that Bonderman's wish could come true:
What the heck, right? Why not see if the guy has anything left in that right arm of his?
It's been a while since we last saw Bonderman's right arm in action. He hasn't pitched in the majors since October 1, 2010, and that wasn't a pretty sight. Bonderman was lit up for nine earned runs by the Baltimore Orioles, and he hasn't been seen since.
Bonderman had Tommy John surgery in April, but he's apparently been working out to get himself in shape to pitch once again. He told Olney that he weighs as much now as he did coming out of high school.
The Tigers have nothing to lose in offering Bonderman a contract. If they're lucky, he'll show good stuff and eventually make his way to the majors as part of the club's starting rotation. They could use some depth for their rotation, especially seeing as how Anibal Sanchez may be too expensive for them to bring back in 2013 and beyond.
If the Tigers aren't so lucky with Bonderman, it's no big loss for them. You have to think there aren't a lot of zeroes on the contract they offered him.
Assuming Bonderman accepts the Tigers' offer, it's safe to say we'll all be rooting for him. Nothing beats a good baseball redemption story.
UPDATE: Sunday, Nov. 11 at 10:30 pm ET
So this is interesting. Jason Beck of MLB.com has reported that maybe Bonderman hasn't been made an offer:
If Bonderman has a contract offer from #Tigers, it seems to be news to him. But he cautioned he's leaving contract matters to his agent.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) November 9, 2012
However, he then noted:
Keep in mind, #Tigers had a standing offer of a minor-league deal with camp invite to Bonderman two offseasons ago.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) November 9, 2012
It could be that that was the offer Morosi heard about. It would seem the Tigers' standing offer never went away, which I suppose would make sense seeing as how it was a standing offer.
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 6:05 pm ET
Even after Phil Coke stepped in and saved the day for the Tigers in the postseason, it was pretty clear that they were going to need to find a new closer this offseason.
The best option on the free agent market became Rafael Soriano the moment he opted out of his contract with the Yankees, but he's apparently not on Detroit's radar. In fact, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says the Tigers could solve their closer dilemma with an in-house option:
Tigers are not interested in Soriano. Plan to stay in-house for closer, with hard-throwing 21-year-old Bruce Rondon getting chance at job.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) November 9, 2012
You can't see it, but I am now golf clapping for the Tigers.
The Tigers would have gone for Soriano if they were intent on obtaining a "proven closer" this offseason, but it seems they're not about to fall for that nonsense. And I suppose this makes sense seeing as how they just watched an unproven closer turn into a postseason star just a few weeks ago.
As for Rondon, he certainly has the stuff to be a closer. Anybody with a triple-digit fastball is always a good option for the ninth inning, especially if the man of the hour (or inning) also happens to feature a good slider.
The problem with Rondon, however, is that he doesn't always know where his stuff is going. He'll have to show some command in spring training before the Tigers hand him the job.
If Rondon can't earn the job, the Tigers will improvise. Maybe Coke will end up getting the closer's job full-time after all.
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 5:35 pm ET
The Tigers want to sign Anibal Sanchez as much as the next team, if not more so.
But man is he getting expensive. Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com reported on Thursday from the GM meetings that Sanchez is seeking a six-year deal worth $90 million, and that may actually be a conservative estimate.
Jon Heyman CBSSports.com has heard that Sanchez told one team that it would take even more to sign him:
anibal sanchez's price going up? he asked 1 team for $90M, 6 yrs, and another about $100M, 7 yrs.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 9, 2012
A $100 million contract for Anibal Sanchez? I mean, he's pretty good, but...
There are teams out there that can give Sanchez a contract like that, and my guess is that he will get what he wants when all is said and done. But you just wonder how high the Tigers are willing to go. As much as they'd love to have Sanchez back, starting pitching isn't exactly a weakness that they need to address. Their lineup and bullpen could use upgrades more than their rotation.
Than again, it's probably not a good idea to rule out any possibilities so long as Mike Ilitch is still signing the checks.
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 12:10 am ET
The Tigers have been surprisingly quiet to this point in the offseason, but now there are some rumblings that a fairly major move may be on the horizon.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, at least one MLB executive views the Tigers as a dark horse to land Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton in a trade. Since the D-Backs are supposedly looking for a third baseman or a shortstop in a trade for Upton, the Tigers could build a trade package around third base prospect Nick Castellanos and go from there.
I'm told the Tigers are doing due diligence on Upton, doing background work on him. Don't know if they've talked specifics with Dbacks.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) November 8, 2012
The Tigers could use a player like Upton. Their right fielders managed just a .664 OPS in 2012, one of the lowest figures in all of baseball. They were banking on Brennan Boesch becoming a stud after his solid 2011 campaign, but he became a dud instead.
However, it won't be easy for the Tigers to end up with Upton given the amount of teams they'll be competing against if they choose to go hard after him. The Diamondbacks are going to need to get an impressive package of players in exchange for him, and the fact of the matter is that the Tigers are light on talented prospects. Castellanos is a good place for the Tigers to start, but they may not be able to make the D-Backs the best offer even if they do include Castellanos in a package.
Still, you never know with Dave Dombrowski. He's a crafty one. Underestimating him is the last thing anyone should do.
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:35 pm ET
The trade the Tigers made to get Anibal Sanchez from the Miami Marlins in July ended up paying big dividends. Sanchez posted a solid 3.74 ERA in 12 starts for the Tigers down the stretch, and then he posted a 1.77 ERA in three postseason starts.
With Sanchez set to hit the open market, the question is whether the Tigers can make an offer competitive enough to retain him. They certainly won't be the only club interested in signing him.
The Tigers aren't going to let Sanchez go without a fight. Via George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press, Dave Dombrowski said earlier this week that he wants Sanchez back in Detroit in 2013:
DD: Has talked to all of the players face-to-face he needed to talk to on after Sunday's game. Wants to have Sanchez back.— George Sipple (@GeorgeSipple) October 30, 2012
For his part, Sanchez said after the World Series ended that he's open to signing anywhere this offseason, Detroit included.
“Of course. I’m open for anybody, but I don’t have any comment about it," he said, via the Free Press.
Sanchez isn't going to come cheap. ESPN's Buster Olney wrote last week that the 28-year-old right-hander could get a contract worth anywhere between $30 million and $60 million.
That actually strikes me as a conservative estimate after the postseason Sanchez just had. He's surely in line for a multi-year deal worth well over $10 million per year.
The Tigers already have about $100 million in salaries committed for 2013. If Sanchez is signed for over $10 million per year, their payroll is going to need some tweaking in order to stay right around where it was in 2012 (about $133 million).
But then again, team owner Mike Ilitch proved with last offseason's Prince Fielder signing that he's willing to spend a little extra cash in order to have a shot at winning it all. Perhaps he'll do so again.
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:35 pm ET
The Tigers have already decided that Jose Valverde won't be returning to the team in 2013 after his disastrous postseason. That puts them in the market for a new closer this winter.
The Tigers could sign a free agent or make a trade. They could also address the issue with in-house options, and Dave Dombrowski hinted this week that he's very much considering that possibility.
What's surprising is that the job could pass to a pitcher with no major league experience: 21-year-old minor league right-hander Bruce Rondon.
"I would not discount Bruce Rondon in the competition for our closer role for next year," Dombrowski said earlier this week, via MLB.com. "I'm not saying he's going to be our closer, but I do not discount him in that role."
Rondon is in the mix for the closer role because he has classic closer-type stuff. He has a fastball that occasionally crosses the 100-MPH plateau, and he features a slider that has some promise.
The biggest issue for Rondon to this point in his career has been his control. He had a BB/9 of 7.6 with Single-A West Michigan in 2011, and he posted a 7.9 BB/9 in nine appearances for Triple-A Toledo this past season.
My best guess is that the Tigers will start Rondon out at Triple-A in 2013 and see how he manages with his location. If he shows an improved ability to throw strikes, he could get the call early in the season and could be closing games the rest of the way.
However, it's possible that Rondon's future will be with another team.
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:35 pm ET
Rondon may have issues with his control, but he has value for the Tigers simply because guys who can throw in the triple digits aren't all that common.
It's no wonder Dave Dombrowski has been getting calls on Rondon, as he admitted to George Sipple earlier this week:
More Rondon/closer talk from DD. "You would not believe the number of clubs that call me about Rondon....Will he be ready? I don't know."— George Sipple (@GeorgeSipple) October 30, 2012
If Rondon is in demand this much, it's possible that he may have more value outside of the Tigers organization than he does within it. It could be that there are clubs out there that are even more willing to give Rondon a shot than the Tigers are.
And indeed, in talking up Rondon as a potential option to be the Tigers' closer in 2013, what Dombrowski could really be doing is trying to up Rondon's value even more.
Even if this is the case, however, it's not like Dombrowski will be able to deal Rondon for a proven closer or a much-needed outfielder. If Dombrowski were to trade Rondon, my guess is that the best he would be able to get would be a reclamation project or a young reliever with talent but a spotty track record.
And if I'm the Tigers, I'm thinking that if anybody is going to take a gamble on Rondon's high upside, it should be me.
Rondon is an interesting trade chip, but it's hard to imagine him moving now that there's a potential role for him to play in Detroit.
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:35 pm ET
For the most part, this tracker is going to focus on rumors and actual news announcements rather than speculation.
But occasionally, some bits of speculation pop up that are worth pondering. That's what we have here.
The Tigers never found a good answer for their hole in left field in 2012, nor did they ever find a perfect No. 2 hitter. If they can, they should find a guy this winter who could fill both roles.
Melky Cabrera would be perfect, and Dave Cameron of FanGraphs wrote in an ESPN Insider piece published this week that Melky should definitely be on Detroit's radar:
...on a one year "make good" contract, there wouldn't be much risk for the Tigers....Offering Melky the chance to hit in front of the Triple Crown winner is a perfect sales pitch to get him to Detroit and show that he can perform even while clean. Given his contact rate, gap power and switch-hitting skills, he'd be the perfect complement to Miguel Cabrera...
It's doubtful that Cabrera will hit .346 again like he was before he was suspended for 50 games in August after testing positive for testosterone, but Cameron correctly points out that Melky is worth a gamble because of what he did in 2011 for the Kansas City Royals. He hit .305 with an .809 OPS and 20 stolen bases, and he did it all without failing any tests.
If the Tigers were to get anything close to that kind of production, Melky would be worth their trouble for one year.
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:35 pm ET
Is anybody out there losing sleep at night wondering whether the Tigers will find a way to bring back Don Kelly?
Outside of Kelly himself, probably not. He was a decent role player for the Tigers in 2010 and 2011, but he played in only 75 games and hit just .186 with a .523 OPS in 2012.
Kelly was designated for assignment and cleared waivers earlier this week, but he decided to become a free agent instead by refusing his minor league assignment. He thinks he can do better on the open market.
But if he can't, Dave Dombrowski said he would be willing to invite Kelly back to the organization on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
Kelly himself told George Sipple that he hasn't ruled out a return to Detroit even after he was DFA'd.
“Just going to see if there’s other options available,” Kelly said. “I guess that’s a formality of the business of baseball.”
Kelly can't hit much, but he might find an opportunity to sign a major league contract with another team because of his versatility. There are very few positions he can't play.
Because versatility is Kelly's best attribute, one wonders if he might find a home in the National League somewhere. He could find more playing time awaiting him in the Senior Circuit.
It's either that, or Kelly could catch on with an American League club that realizes that it's going to have to play NL-style ball more often in 2013 with interleague play set to become a regular occurrence.
Time could prove Kelly wise for declining his minor league assignment. Versatile players may very well be in demand this winter.