They say there are only two seasons: Baseball and winter. While we find ourselves approaching the first official day of winter, I cannot help but miss baseball a little more each passing day. As we approach the holidays, perhaps Al Avila could offer Tigers fans one simple gift: some direction.
It was not long after the final out of the World Series being recorded that Al Avila stood in front of reporters at Comerica Park and discussed the 2017 season. He said that they were going to try and get younger, and they were going to try and cut payroll. It then made fans feel like, “That’s it! The end of this Tigers era that fans have watched over the last 10 years. Time to watch some moves get made, some young talent come in, some lean years in terms of winning, right?”
The only real move that the Tigers have made since that? Moving Cameron Maybin to the Los Angeles Angels. While Maybin was a very productive hitter at the top of the lineup when he was healthy, and covered a fair amount of ground in the outfield, that single move does not necessarily reflect the desire to get younger and cut payroll.
Enter the Chicago White Sox. The Sox some into the Winter Meetings shipping off Sale to the Red Sox and Eaton to the Nationals. They may be moving Melky Cabrera, Jose Abreu, and Jose Quintana before the offseason is over. What does that mean? It means perhaps there are more wins within the division for the Tigers to take. After all, the Tigers team should be more successful if their health holds up. The Royals have moved Wade Davis from the bullpen, and may soon be parting with Lorenzo Cain. The Minnesota Twins have not made much noise, they certainly have not done anything worthy of considering them as contenders. So, by doing nothing, the Tigers remain contenders within the division by default.
There were two reports that also came out during the Winter Meetings. First, the Tigers tried moving Kinsler and J.D. Martinez but asked for too much in return. The second, the Tigers have had a change of heart and do not plan on “selling” as much as they had originally planned.
Which is it? Is it that Al Avila hoped to sell his players away to rebuild the farm, only to ask for too much and fall short? Did he decide that based on the White Sox, he realized there is still an opportunity to make noise in the American League Central? Very early in the offseason, he said everybody was a tradeable option; this included Verlander and Cabrera. Both of these guys are still wearing the Old English D. There also have not been any moves made to improve the team. The bullpen still looks the same, the rotation still looks the same. The offense may have gotten weaker by moving Maybin with no true replacement, so what gives?
As we get ready to celebrate the holidays, perhaps a true answer about the expectations for 2017 would be a nice gift to Detroit Tigers fans. The Tigers still have a large payroll, they pay-out as a team that has the expectations to win. The question is whether this is going to still be the case when the team suits up on Opening Day.