Tigers' Ron Gardenhire on Dallas Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel: 'We Could Use Them'

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 28, 2019

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 24:   Manager Ron Gardenhire of the Detroit Tigers looks on against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 24, 2019 in New York City. The Tigers defeated the Mets 9-8. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told TMZ Sports that his team "could use" starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel, who are both still unsigned two months into the season.

The answer was in response to a question regarding why Gardenhire thought the duo hadn't found teams yet.

Detroit is 19-32 and second-to-last in the American League Central, so adding the two former All-Stars would improve the franchise.

Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young winner, went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA and 153 strikeouts last year for the Houston Astros. Kimbrel went 5-1 with 42 saves and a 2.74 ERA with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

However, the team is also in rebuilding mode. Signing the duo may not be in line with what Detroit is trying to accomplish at the moment.

Detroit is 19-32 and second-to-last in the American League Central. Per Baseball Prospectus, Detroit's Opening Day payroll was $115,673,500, 10th-lowest in the league.

Nearly half of that money was earmarked for two players who have encountered struggles of late: first baseman Miguel Cabrera ($30 million salary) and starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann ($25 million).

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Cabrera, an 11-time All-Star, signed an eight-year, $243 million deal before the 2014 season that extends through at least 2023. He has a .742 OPS this year, which is the second-lowest mark of his career.

Zimmermann, a two-time All-Star who finished top seven in the National League Cy Young voting twice with the Washington Nationals, is 0-4 with a 5.93 ERA. He is on the injured list with a right elbow sprain.

Zimmermann's deal comes off the books after 2020, and the players with the three highest salaries after the top two (Nicholas Castellanos, Tyson Ross and Jordy Mercer) are free agents this offseason.

The bottom line is the Tigers will have some wiggle room in the near future to sign free agents as they look forward to the arrivals of an exciting crop of starting pitchers on the farm that includes 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick Casey Mize.

Until then, however, Detroit will likely ride out the rebuilding storm with the players it has, meaning Keuchel and Kimbrel will have to look elsewhere for work.