Detroit Tigers 2012: Buehrle, Prado, and Cespedes; Three Players the Tigers Need

Joe UnderhillCorrespondent IIINovember 29, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox shares a laugh with first baseman Adam Dunn during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Tigers are in a great position coming into the 2012 offseason. They don't have a lot of holes they need to fill, and while it's probably a strong bet the Tigers won't sign a superstar type player (CJ Wilson, Jose Reyes, etc), there are three players I think the Tigers should push to acquire which will set them up to contend not only for the AL Central, but for a World Series.


Mark Buehrle

I've warmed up to the idea of signing Buehrle as the offseason has progressed. It's still possible, maybe probable, the Tigers will prefer to sign a cheap veteran in the mold of Brad Penny (a one-year contract). Buehrle won't come cheap, and the contract won't be short. The price and duration will be worth it in the long run.

It will probably be a minimum four-year contract averaging $10 million per season. Giving Buehrle a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth season would give the Tigers a consistent 200-inning pitcher that is left-handed. The Tigers have needed a solid left-handed pitcher since Kenny Rogers retired.

Part of the fallout to signing Buehrle will be the effect it will have on the young pitchers in the Tigers system. One of the reasons the Tigers have talked about adding a veteran to a one-year contract is having that person push the young guys, but not block them. Signing Buehrle to a four-year deal obviously locks up a roster spot.

However, all of the Tigers' young pitchers could use another year of refinement in the minors. Because of this the Tigers don't "have" to move anyone this year. However, with Buehrle in the fold, they could look to move one or two of their more ready pitchers for help at second or third (this year) or shortstop in the future.

Projected Tigers rotation with the addition of Mark Buehrle.

1. Justin Verlander
2. Doug Fister
3. Mark Buehrle
4. Max Scherzer
5. Rick Porcello

ATLANTA - AUGUST 31: Martin Prado #14 and Eric Hinske #20of the Atlanta Braves celebrate after the game against the Washington Nationals at Turner Field on August 31, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

1. Justin Verlander
2. Doug Fister
3. Mark Buehrle
4. Max Scherzer
5. Jacob Turner


Martin Prado

I think the long-rumored deal for Martin Prado happens during the winter meetings. Prado would be an offensive upgrade at second base, and could slide nicely into the lead off spot in Jim Leyland's batting order.

The Braves are said to be looking for more of a power bat for left field. The Braves also need help at shortstop, so a deal centering around Ryan Raburn and a SS prospect (Gustavo Nunez, Argenis Diaz or Will Rhymes). I don't know if Rhymes would be able to make a shift to SS, but its a possibility and Rhymes has flashed the potential to be a solid top of the order hitter.

Prado fits very well in the Tigers batting order providing a solid on base option at the top of the order to set the table for the big hitters (Young, Cabrera, Martinez). Prado would bring stability to second base where the Tigers have had as many as six different players log time at second base. I would expect utility infielder Danny Worth would take over the role Ramon Santiago has played the last couple of years.

Projected 2012 batting order with Prado:

1. Martin Prado (2B)
2. Brennan Boesch (RF)
3. Delmon Young (LF)
4. Miguel Cabrera (1B)
5. Victor Martinez (DH)
6. Alex Avila (C)
7. Jhonny Peralta (SS)
8. Brandon Inge/Don Kelly (3B)
9. Austin Jackson (CF)


Yoenis Cespedes

The Cuban defector is a wild card in a lot of ways. No one knows for sure how well Cespedes skills will translate to the majors, and if he'll be able to maintain his performance over a major league season. The potential out weighs the risks with Cespedes, who has shown in the international competitions, the ability to play with all five tools. He is a center fielder by trade, but would move to a corner (LF eventually) in Detroit. 

This year, Cespedes would be take over the fourth outfielder role in Detroit. He would provide value as a pinch runner and hitter, plus the ability to defend any of the outfield positions. It's very possible for Cespedes could develop the same power a Delmon Young has, while playing substantially better defensively.

It could very well be an expensive endeavor to sign Cespedes, but I think its a risk worth taking. The Tigers need speed and a lead off hitter, and Cespedes has the tools to do both for a long time in Detroit.