4 Players the Tigers Would Love to Sign but Can't Have
Every year, fans salivate over a new crop of free agents, wishing and hoping their team is able to sign the marquee players.
For numerous reasons, teams are often unable to pursue those players. Sometimes it's simply a matter of positional need, lack of funds, or maybe the player simply doesn't want to play in a specific town.
Here are four free agents I think the Tigers would love to add to their team, but probably cannot do so.
Of course, with an epic owner like Mike Ilitch, one can never rule out a signing from left field. Raise your hand if you thought the Tigers were going to sign Prince Fielder.
However, signing any of these players is extremely unlikely.
Josh Hamilton: Left Field
Josh Hamilton is the premier offensive player on the market this offseason.
Every team in baseball would love to add a talent like him to their team, but their are several major barriers keeping this from happening.
First, Hamilton has a well-documented history of alcohol and drug use. Second, he's had issues staying healthy.
Third, he wants a long, expensive contract. Fourth, he's not a pure hitter—he swings and misses a lot.
Fifth, he wants a MONSTER contract.
The Tigers would love to plug a bat like Hamilton's into left field. Hamilton would bat sixth and provide an already potent lineup with another high-octane hitter.
Zack Greinke: Starting Pitcher
Zack Greinke is the best free agent pitcher on the market, and probably in the top five right handers in the game. There are some questions about his ability to pitch in a big market, but he pitched fine (6-2, 3.53 ERA) for the Angels last year after the trade. As with most players on this list the number of years and dollars he wants are the reason he won't be offered a deal by the Tigers.
How he would fit? In Detroit he'd be the number two starter behind Justin Verlander, and would give the Tigers the best rotation in all of baseball. Verlander, Greinke, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and Drew Smyly. The Tigers would take that in a heart beat.
Michael Bourn: Center Field
The Tigers have a center fielder, and a very good one at that.
However, Michael Bourn brings something the Tigers lack as a team: speed, and a lot of it.
He has stolen 40 or more base each of the last five years, topping out at 61 steals. The Tigers stole 59 bases as a team last year.
In order to make room for Bourn, the Tigers would have to move incumbent Austin Jackson to left field, which wouldn't be the end of the world, as left field in Comerica is as large as some parks' center field.
The Tigers would have the best outfield defense in the American League, and probably in all of baseball.
The other move they would have to make is a shift in their batting order. Bourn would lead off, followed by Jackson, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and then Torii Hunter.
The Tigers would have a lot of speed at the top of their order in Bourn and Jackson (who finally might be able to learn how to steal bases).
Rafael Soriano: Relief Pitcher
As it stands right now, the Tigers are planning on giving 21-year-old rookie Bruce Rondon the responsibility of closing games.
In a perfect world, the Tigers would have someone with more experience.
Enter Rafael Soriano, who has twice saved over 40 games in a season. He has also shown the ability to pitch in a pressure-cooker like New York, with the added pressure of replacing a future Hall of Famer in Mariano Rivera.
The Tigers would most likely want a short-term insurance closer, but getting Soriano for two years would be ideal, as the Tigers could bring Rondon up this year to pitch in the sixth-to-eighth innings and maybe get a save or two.
Then next year, with Benoit being a free agent, Rondon could be the setup man and take over the closer job in 2015.
Are Any of These Possible?
Of these four players, the two who interest me the most are Michael Bourn and Rafael Soriano.
I had not thought of moving Jackson out of center field before, but the more I think about it the more I like the idea of having Jackson in left and Bourn in center.
Jackson is a very good defender, Bourn is a great defender. Also, I like the sound of Bourn and Jackson being at the top of the batting order.
Andy Dirks, Avisail Garcia, Brennan Boesch and Quinton Berry would be competing in spring training to be the reserve outfielders/pinch runners. Dirks and Garcia probably would have the edge, because they're able to play multiple positions and defend well.
With Soriano, a deal would only happen if he was willing to take a one- or two-year deal. The Tigers might be willing to give him 15 million for one year or 14 over two, but Soriano will not get four years or $60 million. Signing him would put the Tigers in an ideal situation regarding their bullpen.
Assuming Rondon is ready for the big leagues, they can have him start working in low-pressure situations, allowing him to be mentored by Dotel, Benoit and Soriano. It also allows the Tigers to look for one more reliever (preferably a lefty) for their pen.
The Tigers pen would look like this: Duane Below (long relief), Phil Coke (LHP), Bruce Rondon (RHP) Octavio Dotel (7th), Joaquin Benoit (8th), Rafael Soriano (9th).
Not too shabby.