Taking a Look Back at the Detroit Tigers Offseason Moves
After reaching the World Series for the second time since 2006 last season, the Detroit Tigers didn't make a lot of noise in the offseason, going into 2013.
The Tigers had most of the players that took them to the Fall Classic coming back, and they didn't want to mess up the well-constructed puzzle that General Manager Dave Dombrowski has assembled.
That being said, there are always a few critical decisions to make in any offseason, and the Tigers were no different. The team needed to fill a few holes and make a couple long-term decisions that could affect the direction of the franchise.
The Tigers were once again heavy favorites to win the American League Central this season, and although Detroit sits in first place through 58 games, the Tigers haven't performed quite as well so far as they would've liked.
Here is a look back at the Tigers' key offseason moves:
Re-Signing Anibal Sanchez: A
Anibal Sanchez's five-year, $80 million contract signing this offseason was one of the more polarizing deals in recent Tigers memory.
Some people loved the deal, while others (myself included) didn't think Sanchez had enough of a polished resume to warrant that kind of money.
But Sanchez has gone out this season and proven doubters wrong to the tune of a 2.65 ERA and 98 strikeouts compared to only 18 walks in 78 innings of work.
Sanchez's 6-5 record isn't overwhelming, but in each of his losses, the Tigers scored three runs or fewer, failing to give the 29-year-old righty any help.
Sanchez has given up two earned runs or fewer in nine of his 12 starts so far this season, and he was two outs away from earning a no-hitter on May 24 against the Minnesota Twins.
Extending Justin Verlander's Contract: A-
The Tigers extended Verlander's contract this offseason that will earn him $180 million over the next seven years with a vesting option to make $202 million over the next eight seasons.
The Tigers were extremely smart to get this deal done now and ensure that Verlander will spend his entire career in Detroit.
Verlander isn't having a prototypical Verlander season, but the two-time defending AL Cy Young winner and 2011 AL MVP is still considered the best pitcher on the planet and is still pitching at an ace level.
The expectations that Verlander sets for himself are almost impossible to live up to year-in and and year-out, and for any other pitcher in the game, Verlander's numbers this season would be pretty good. But for the man himself and for the fans of Detroit, Verlander has been somewhat disappointing this season.
The 30-year-old has a 7-4 record with a 3.70 ERA over 12 starts so far in 2013. Verlander had back-to-back awful outings in May, allowing 13 earned runs combined over two starts.
Other than those two gaffes, Verlander has pretty much been himself this season. He's allowed three earned runs or fewer in all 10 other starts, and in five of those starts, he either threw a shutout or gave up only one run.
It was key for the Tigers to lock Verlander up this season before he could hit free agency, where his value would skyrocket.
It's almost unimaginable to think how much teams that are one step away from a World Series would have offered the right-handed ace in free agency.
The Tigers put a lot of money into Verlander's arm until he's 36 and possibly 37 years old, but his resume over the last several seasons speaks for himself. The Tigers couldn't afford to see him in another uniform.
Signing Free Agent Torii Hunter: B
In May, Dombrowksi looked like a genius, signing Torii Hunter to a two-year deal worth $26 million last offseason.
Hunter batted .370 with 12 RBI in the season's opening month, and he was off to one of the best starts of his career.
The 37-year-old has inevitably cooled off a bit, but he's still hitting .298 with 23 RBI in 51 of the Tigers' 58 games this season.
He's given the Tigers a much-needed veteran presence in the clubhouse and in the outfield, mentoring rising stars Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia.
The Tigers have had a revolving door in right field for the past few years after the demise and departure of Magglio Ordonez, and for at least the next two seasons, Hunter will give the Tigers everything he has, in search of his first career World Championship.
Keeping Nick Castellanos in the Minors: C
Nick Castellanos has been a household name in the Tigers organization since he was drafted in 2010.
Tigers fans have been resolute in the desire to see the 21-year-old phenom in a Tigers uniform, but Detroit has been very careful with Castellanos' development, not allowing him to make his major league debut.
After struggling in Triple-A to start the season, Castellanos is hitting .320 (24-for-75) with seven doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI in his last 20 games for the Toledo Mud Hens, and he is starting to gain the consistency he's shown at lower levels in his short minor league career.
The outfielder is hitting .288 overall with a .359 on-base percentage in Toledo this season, adding nine home runs and 32 RBI in 62 games.
The Tigers have been smart thus far to temper Castellanos' development, not bringing him up, but if he continues to stay hot, the Tigers may want to consider giving him a look.
Don Kelly has been awful this season, batting .190 with two home runs and seven RBI, while Dirks has scuffled out of the gate, averaging .240 with five homers and 16 RBI.
Jackson is expected to return from the disabled list soon, which will help stabilize the Tigers outfield, but if Jackson gets hurt again, Castellanos might have to get the nod to make his much-anticipated major league debut.
Keeping Rick Porcello: C
I was one of the biggest advocates of getting rid of Rick Porcello before the start of the 2013 campaign.
I was in favor of using Porcello as trade bait to make a move for a closer, and promoting Drew Smyly to the fifth starter.
Porcello has been decent but inconsistent this season, earning a 2-3 record with a 5.21 ERA in 11 starts.
The 24-year-old had an April to forget to begin the season, stumbling out to a 1-2 record with an 8.84 ERA, including a devastating nine-earned run performance against the Los Angeles Angels on April 20.
Porcello settled down in May, going 1-0 with a 3.13 ERA, but in a loaded rotation, it's viewed as everyone else on the top tier and then Porcello on the bottom looking up.
Porcello could still be a good bargaining chip down the stretch, and he's shown flashes of consistency, which could make him valuable, but so far, the Tigers' decision to keep him on the roster and in the rotation is just so-so
Giving Bruce Rondon the Opportunity to Be Closer: D-
The Bruce Rondon experiment has crashed and burned for the Tigers so far.
Dombrowski put all of his eggs in Rondon's basket after declining to bring back Jose Valverde, stating that the youngster had electric stuff and would be just fine in the closer role.
But Rondon scuffled in Spring Training and started the season in Triple-A Toledo before making his much-anticipated major league debut with Detroit on April 21.
After being called up, the Tigers tried Rondon in a less stressful role to begin his career, but even regular relief duty proved to be too much for the 22-year-old in his first go-around.
In three appearances over 2.1 innings, Rondon gave up five hits and three earned runs for a 11.57 ERA and a .455 opponent average.
The Tigers have since re-signed and re-called Valverde back as closer, and Valverde has done a decent job so far, but who knows what the Tigers could have if they'd been more proactive in their quest for a closer this offseason.