I love the offseason in baseball. Love it.
I love the trade rumors. I love the rumors about who’s going where and how much they’re going to get when they arrive. I love all the work and research people do during the offseason as well as the prospect lists.
There are two things about the offseason I don’t much care for. One is when the Tigers do dumb things or are rumored to be about to do something dumb. Another thing I don’t love about the offseason is the point we’re at right now. In this early stage, the news is slow and we don’t really know much.
Teams haven’t offered players arbitration yet, so the market hasn’t even truly developed. The market rate can’t really be set when the market itself isn’t set. Teams are hesitant to go after players they want when somebody they want more could become available.
That lack of news makes everything we do learn in these slow days magnified.
That brings us to where we are with the Tigers right now. The somewhat predictable news that the Tigers will listen to all offers in an attempt to address their needs is put out as the Tigers listening to offers on key players such as Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson.
Because the Tigers play in Detroit, this is interpreted as payroll reduction. Now the rest of the offseason, we are doomed to read about the cost-cutting Tigers and any player making seven figures will be tied to any team with a nine figure payroll.
Wheee. Let’s keep our heads about us and nip that idea in the bud.
The Tigers are not entertaining offers for Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson, Gerald Laird and Brandon Inge—all names we’ve heard this week—because they’re desperate to cut payroll. I don’t know that for a fact, but those four players will probably make about $23 million in 2010.
The Tigers could cut that much payroll by shipping Miguel Cabrera to Boston. The Tigers could save more payroll than any one of those four represent in 2009 by selling one of their bad contracts and taking the equivalent of a Jugs machine in return.
Why, after pushing the envelope on payroll for three years now, would the Tigers pull back at this point? They missed the playoffs by literally one game. Why would they not take their shot in 2010 and then make adjustments in 2011 if loss of revenue dictated?
The Tigers only have something like $42 million committed for 2011. Add Verlander’s salary to that and they could still field a young team and lick their fiduciary wounds.
No, if the Tigers are going to field offers on these players it’s going to be about talent acquisition. If they’re going to shop guys like Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson, they’re at least going about it the right way.
Granderson is better than any free agent center fielder and a lot of teams have more talent than money. They would be selling high on Jackson and they could probably fill his spot in the rotation by giving the $6 million or so he would have received to a free agent with depressed value.
I’m not saying I’m jazzed about the Tigers shopping these guys, especially Granderson. But the way they’ve done this, they have given themselves about ten days or so where teams can work themselves into a lather and consider what they’d give up for these guys.
They are cheap relative to their value, so if the Tigers don’t like what they see they just go back to business as planned.
It’s not desperate. It’s not a fire sale. It’s probably just the optimal way to do business when you don’t have a lot of money to spend. If you prefer to just wish away these rumors, here’s something for you.
When is the last time there was a lot of buzz about the Tigers trying to move a player and then they actually did it?
A few years ago it was Craig Monroe and Nate Robertson. They didn’t move. Since then, it’s been Marcus Thames, Magglio Ordonez, and Brandon Inge (among others) who were expected to find new homes over the offseason.
None of them moved either. I’m not saying these players won’t be moved because they’ve been mentioned, but their being mentioned certainly doesn’t mean they should pack their bags.
Wow. Since this article is getting so many hits, I'll point out that you can read more of my stuff over at my blog about the Tigers' minor leagues, Take 75 North.