Grading the Detroit Tigers' Moves at the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings
The Detroit Tigers didn't make the biggest splash during the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings, but they did make a couple of moves to fill some holes and to provide themselves with some aspects they lacked last season.
General Manager Dave Dombrowski has already made some key moves this offseason by trading Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler and by moving Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for prospects and a bullpen arm. But Dombrowski wasn't done there.
Detroit refuses to go into rebuilding mode after going to three consecutive American League Championship Series, as they will continue to make a run for their first World Series Championship since 1984 and try to earn a title for long-time owner Mike Ilitch.
Here are the grades for the Tigers' moves at the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings.
Signing Rajai Davis Instead of Shin-Soo Choo: B-
According to Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News, the Tigers were recently in heavy pursuit of Shin-Soo Choo in order to shore up the left field position and provide a more dependable option than Andy Dirks, but Detroit went with a different choice at the Winter Meetings.
Detroit signed the speedy Rajai Davis to a two-year, $10 million deal, giving the Tigers a base-stealing threat they badly missed last season.
Davis has stolen 216 bases since 2009, trailing only Michael Bourn's 239 for the MLB lead during this time span, and Davis has been to the plate 1,000 times less than Bourn in that same period.
The 33-year-old hit .260 with a .312 on-base percentage, six home runs, 24 RBI and 45 steals for a bad Toronto Blue Jays team last season in 108 games.
Davis stole 10 more bases in 2013 than the entire Tigers team combined, and he stole 37 more than Detroit's leading base-stealer, Austin Jackson.
The acquisition of Davis gives Detroit a right-handed bat to platoon in left field with the left-handed Andy Dirks, creating an advantage in pitching matchups. He's expected to split time with Dirks, but as the season progresses, Davis could very likely earn the everyday nod.
Davis, who flirted with the Minnesota Twins before signing with the Tigers, is a career .268 hitter who's been extremely productive against left-handed pitching, posting a .294 lifetime average with a .354 OBP against southpaws.
Signing Joba Chamberlain: C+
The Joba Chamberlain circus has made it's way to Detroit by way of a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
Chamberlain came onto the MLB scene in 2007 as a phenom-type prospect who was supposed to be the next big thing. He posted a 2-0 record with a 0.38 ERA in 19 games of relief for the New York Yankees that season, and he looked to be living up to the hype.
But after an eighth-place finish in Rookie of the Year voting in 2008 and a 2.60 ERA in 12 starts and 42 appearances, things went south for Chamberlain.
From 2009 to 2013, Chamberlain posted a sub-4.00 ERA just once and fell out of favor with the Yankees.
The 28-year-old badly needed a change of scenery after posting a career-worst 4.93 ERA last season, and the Tigers could use a power arm in the back end of the bullpen.
"A bullpen arm — not big-time — but somebody that might give us a little depth out there," Dave Dombrowski said to John Lowe of USA Today when describing how Chamberlain could help the team.
At $2.5 million for just one year, Chamberlain's deal is a low risk, and it could turn out to be a high reward if he turns out to the player that he was projected to be when he first came into the league.
Not Trading Max Scherzer: A
The Tigers had way too much money looming on the payroll with the existing contracts of Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander, and there was also the fact that MVP Miguel Cabrera would become a free agent in 2015 and be due for a hefty extension. Furthermore, Scherzer is scheduled by a free agent next winter, and after the year that he had in 2013, he will be looking for a mega-deal as well.
But after the trades of Fielder and Doug Fister, the Tigers may now have the ability to keep both superstars on the roster and be able to afford them.
Scherzer, who went 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 2013, has supposedly been on the trade block for a a while, but the Tigers chose not to get rid of the reigning Cy Young Award winner during the 2013 Winter Meetings.
However, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports indicated this week that he could still be moved for the right price.
The Tigers still have a few holes in the roster, such as the lack of a power bat besides Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, as well as a dependable and proven middle reliever, but Detroit did some good things during the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings to add some diversity to the lineup.
Davis has the potential to open up some things for the Tigers' offense, Chamberlain could turn out to be a huge addition, and if Scherzer continues to perform anywhere near how well he performed last season, keeping him could be the most important thing of all.
The biggest thing for the Tigers is remaining relevant and in contention for the World Series.
After being to the ALCS in three straight seasons, they have to win the big one eventually, right?
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