A year ago today, the Detroit Tigers shocked the baseball world when they signed first baseman Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal. This type of deal for a difference-maker in January or February is becoming commonplace for Tigers fans. I would not be surprised if the Tigers acquire an impact player before spring training, and below are a few choices I could foresee.
Typically, things are pretty slow in baseball between the first of the year and spring training. By this point, most teams usually have completed their major free agent signings or their offseason trades, and teams will only look to make minor moves. Fortunately in recent years, January and February is when the Tigers have chosen to act with some big announcements.
Many of the big signings the Tigers have made in January and February were ones no one saw coming. Last year was the Fielder signing, in February 2010, it was Johnny Damon, in February 2005, it was Magglio Ordonez and in February 2004, it was Pudge Rodriguez. All four of the signings were star players who gave a positive contribution on the field to help the Tigers.
This year, the Tigers still have a few holes and I can't help but wonder if they have a surprise signing or trade up their sleeve.
There is a lot of debate among fans about whether the Tigers will actually go with rookie closer Bruce Rondon. Would Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski either try and sign a free agent closer or try and pull off a trade for one like Drew Storen from the Washington Nationals?
Even though I think Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton is overrated, the Diamondbacks and Atlanta are in trade discussions regarding him. Could the Tigers try and swoop in at the last minute with a trade offer?
Perhaps the Tigers think a change in scenery would help the 25-year-old. Upton's stats declined last season, but he has the potential to develop into a 30-30 guy.
Another major signing could be 30-year-old, free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn. While Bourn doesn't hit for power, he is a speedster and could play in left field and move Andy Dirks to the fourth outfielder role.
An outfield of Bourn, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter would be a strong one and would give the Tigers a huge defensive upgrade as well as help change the the dynamic of the batting lineup. Bourn would help the Tigers steal some bases and put pressure on the opposing pitchers for the "bigger" bats in the lineup.
While I consider Bourn a long shot to be signed, the Tigers might choose to trade pitcher Rick Porcello to strengthen other areas of the roster.
Regardless, I would not be shocked if the Tigers announce either a signing or a trade in the next few weeks. Actually, being a Tigers fan, I've come to expect it.