Detroit Tigers: GM Dave Dombrowski Missed out on Several Players This Offseason
Mike Illitch wants to see his Detroit Tigers win another World Series in his lifetime and has opened up his wallet recently to help make it happen.
The Tigers' 83-year-old owner hasn't been shy about shelling out boatloads of cash the past two offseasons, starting with the nine-year, $214 million contract tendered to Prince Fielder in January 2012, and again last month when Detroit signed free agent Anibal Sanchez to a five-year, $80 million deal.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has done a fantastic job putting the correct pieces together to assemble a championship puzzle the last several years, allowing the Tigers to compete for division championships and threaten for a world title or two, but lately, it seems like Dombrowski hasn't been as aggressive.
In addition to the Sanchez signing, the Tigers acquired All-Star right fielder Torii Hunter with a two-year, $28 million deal, but there are still a lot of holes in Detroit's lineup that haven't been filled.
There have been several players who fit the Tigers' needs who have been available this offseason, either through trades or free agency, but Dombrowski has failed to pull the trigger on most of them, opting to stick with mostly the same team that was swept out of the 2012 World Series.
Here are five of the best players the Tigers missed out on this offseason.
The Tigers have been steadfast in their dedication to rookie closer Bruce Rondon this offseason, insisting they will allow the 22-year-old every opportunity to earn the job in Detroit.
They've been so confident in Rondon that the Tigers have passed on several quality closers, including Rafael Soriano.
Soriano, who went 2-1 with a 2.26 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 67.2 innings last season for the New York Yankees, was one of the best available closers on the market. But even after several conversations with the Tigers, Dombrowski failed to make an offer.
"We never made him an offer," Dombrowski said earlier this week to MLive.com's Chris Iott. "And our conversations were exploratory, like any other free agent."
The 33-year-old closer filled in for living legend Mariano Rivera last season after the Hall of Famer missed 2012 due to injury, and Soriano admirably replaced Rivera while earning 42 saves—good for third-best in the AL.
On Jan. 17, Soriano ended his free agency, signing a two-year $28 million deal with the Washington Nationals, with a club option for 2015.
The Tigers were flirting with the Orioles for an extended period of time about possibly trading Rick Porcello for J.J. Hardy, but Detroit allowed the talented O's shortstop to get away.
Detroit has appeared to remain committed to shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who had an awful year last season.
After a great first full season for the Tigers in 2011, Peralta had a .239 average with 13 home runs and 63 RBI last year. He and Hardy had similar offensive numbers—with Hardy averaging .238 with 22 home runs and 68 RBI last season—but the Orioles shortstop is a much better defender than Peralta.
So if you're counting, that's about three weeks that the Orioles were reportedly interested in shopping Hardy, and the Tigers failed to cement a deal.
I'm not mad at the Tigers for signing Hunter to a two-year, $28 million deal, but some pundits argued that if you're going to give Hunter $14 million for two years, why not offer Hamilton a five-year deal for about $25 million per year.
On Dec. 13, Hamilton agreed to a five-year, $125 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels, almost a month after the Angels allowed Hunter to get away and be acquired by the Tigers.
I think Hunter, who hit .313 with a .365 on-base percentage, 16 home runs and 92 RBI last season, will be a great addition for the Tigers; but with the way Illitch has been making it rain with free agents the last couple years, Detroit could have made a run at Hamilton.
Hamilton, who averaged .285 with a .354 OBP, 43 home runs and 128 RBI in Texas, worked out a deal with the Angels where he'll make $17 million in each of the next two years, $25 million in 2015, and $32 million in 2016 and 2017.
Hamilton won the AL MVP in 2010 and finished fifth in MVP voting last season, but has had very public substance abuse issues, and several teams were weary of giving him a long-term deal.
The Tigers will be better than they were a year ago with Hunter on their roster, but with Hamilton's potential, his addition to Detroit's roster could have been scary.
As part of the deal that brought Anibal Sanchez to Detroit last July, the Tigers also acquired Omar Infante to solve their problem at second base.
The Tigers had a revolving door at second base the last couple seasons, and no one stepped up and took the reins as a productive starter.
Infante had a decent season in 2012, averaging .274 with 12 home runs and 53 RBI while splitting time with the Tigers and the Miami Marlins, but didn't do anything to dazzle Tiger fans, and was kind of lost in Detroit's lineup.
Marco Scutaro was the No. 1 second basemen on the market this offseason, and after hitting .306 with seven home runs and 74 RBI last season, the 37-year-old became a hot commodity.
Scutaro's free-agent stock grew exponentially after being named National League Championship Series MVP—a series in which he batted .500 with four RBI and led the San Francisco Giants to a seven-game series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Scutaro was traded to the Giants in late July last year, and after testing free agency, he decided to stay with the World Series champs, signing a three-year, $20 million deal.
The Tigers are OK with Infante at second, but after the year that Scutaro had—especially the second half—he would have been a great addition for the Tigers and their run at a World Series this season.
Stephen Drew was one of the best shortstops on the market this offseason after reinvigorating his season in the second half with the Oakland Athletics.
Drew struggled in the first half with the Diamondbacks, but hit .250 with a .326 OBP, five home runs and 16 RBI in 39 games with the A's.
Again, Drew puts up similar offensive numbers to Peralta; but again, his value is in his defense. The 29-year-old is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, and has the ability to hit for power and steal a base or two.
The conversation with Drew ended for the Tigers when he signed a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Boston Red Sox on Dec. 26.
I think Drew will turn out to be a valuable Christmas present for the Red Sox next season.