One of the biggest needs the Tigers have this offseason is adding speed to their lineup. The Tigers would prefer to add that in the form of an everyday second baseman, but there doesn't appear to be one available this year.
The best leadoff hitter by far is New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. Reyes comes with pretty significant risk. His .337 batting average this year was over 40 points higher than his career average. Reality says Reyes is probably closer to being a high-.280s to low-.290s hitter rather than an above-.300 hitter.
One element Reyes has going for him is his speed. However, after his hamstring injury in 2009, he hasn't stolen more than the 39 swipes he had this year.
Injury is another concern with Reyes. He has been placed on the disabled list several times since breaking into the majors in 2003. What is most concerning is all the injuries have been to his lower body: Grade 2 ankle sprain in 2003, strained hamstring in 2004, calf injury which cost him almost all of 2009.
The question the Tigers face is two-fold. First, is signing Reyes going to be worth the risk? Reyes is a good defender, but Jhonny Peralta put together a season that might be worthy of a gold glove this year.
Would Reyes concede to making a position change in Detroit? The Tigers really need a second baseman and third baseman. There is a chance if the Tigers decided Reyes was the missing piece they could ask Peralta to move to third, but Peralta has said his preference is to play short.
If Reyes wer willing to switch to second base, this would be a bold and risky signing that could pay huge dividends. If the Tigers were able to add Reyes at second they would have a offensive upgrade without a loss on the defensive side. It could be argued Reyes would be an upgrade on defense.
Offensively, Reyes would move to the top of the order, allowing Austin Jackson to move to eighth or ninth. With Jackson at the bottom of the order, his strikeouts become less of an issue.
The Tigers line up would look something like this:
1. Jose Reyes
2. Brennan Boesch
3. Delmon Young
4. Miguel Cabrera
5. Victor Martinez
6. Alex Avila
7. Jhonny Peralta
8. Third base
9. Austin Jackson
Of course, it is high unlikely Reyes would be will to make a position switch. There is also the matter of the size of contract Reyes is going to demand. Most likely he'll want a contract which will exceed five years and $100 million.
The question the Tigers will have to decide is whether the risk is worth the reward. I think if Reyes is willing to move to second, and his contract is in the realm of $16 million a year they should sign him. It's been said luck favors the bold, and the Tigers need to be bold to get back to the postseason and the World Series.
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