The Detroit Tigers are missed out on the playoffs by only a handful of games in 2016. They come off a year that resulted in a 86-75 record, which was good for second in the AL Central. They still finished eight games behind the Cleveland Indians for the division title, and two and a half out from a Wild Card birth.
Now the team enters the offseason in the need of a shakeup. The current roster simply has not gotten things done over the course of the last few seasons, and this past year proved moves need to be made. The team’s front office has essentially made everyone available, but not in the fire sale type of way. The team is not going into full rebuild mode, but some of their current players will be traded away. They represent one of the more interesting teams out in the league this winter.
Now with the Winter Meetings upon us, let’s take a closer look at where the Tigers stand moving forward.
Positions of Need
Catcher: Starting catcher James McCann had a disappointing 2016 campaign. Granted he did battle injuries, but none the less, it was a let down. He is still only 26, and the team could very well opt to stick with him as their starter once again. But if the right deal presents itself, the team could certainly jump on it.
Outfield: As things stand right now, the clubs starting outfield will consist of Justin Upton, Tyler Collins and JD Martinez. Steven Moya is also lurking, and could easily find himself in one of those starting slots. Martinez is the most likely member of the club to get dealt this offseason, which would make the addition of an outfield very likely. Collins is not a proven commodity, so even with Martinez around, the club could use a little depth.
Catcher: The most likely route the team takes here would be to find a catcher they could sign for cheap, and use them as a backup, but is capable of starting if McCann struggles. Wellington Castillo was recently non-tendered by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he could certainly bring some extra power to the lineup. Chris Iannetta and Dioner Navarro are two potential options as well, as both men have starting experience.
Outfield: The team is not going to be going after anyone after any bigger names, but rather depth type of players. Angel Pagan is a name who immediately comes to mind with that profile. Rajai Davis could make a return to the Motor City after a year in Cleveland. If he comes cheap enough, they could take a stab at someone like Carlos Gomez. Recently non-tendered Ben Revere is another name who fits the bill.
Possible Trade Pieces
JD Martinez: Martinez finds himself in the final year of his deal, and coming off a season where he hit .307 and 22 home runs. He is the type of bat that clubs will seek as the bigger free agent names start to fall, as Cespedes and Reddick are already off the market. He will likely share a market with the two outfielders the New York Mets have available, Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson. The Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers could all be fits.
Anibal Sanchez: Sanchez is not coming off the greatest season, and the Tigers may simply be ready to move on. He has one year remaining on his deal, plus a club option for 2018. So a team could look to take a gamble on him with the idea that he is on a one year deal if he does not perform, but a two year deal if they like the results. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros may be willing to take the gamble given how weak the free agent market is.
Ian Kinsler: Like Sanchez, Kinsler has a club option for 2018. The second base market is fairly thin this winter, so Kinsler will clearly standout amongst the crowd. He hit .288 with 28 homers in 2016, which on a one year deal any team would sign for. But not many teams are in need of a second baseman, so the Tigers will need to pit two clubs against one another to get the best deal. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a clear option, while the other team could be the St. Louis Cardinals if they use Kolton Wong in a deal for a center fielder.
Francisco Rodriguez: K-Rod enters the final year of his deal, and is set to make eight million dollars. In a market flush with big names at the closer position, Rodriguez would represent a cheaper alternative for teams who do not want to spend big. The club could flip K-Rod for a prospect, and possibly pursue someone like Greg Holland to fill their role. The Miami Marlins, Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants could be potential fits.
One Bold Prediction
The Tigers appear poised to make some moves this winter, so my bold prediction will be that they leave the Winter Meetings without making a single move. All of their moves will come later in the winter, as Martinez’s market will be hurt by the presence of Bruce and Granderson. There will not be enough of a market for Kinsler, and contracts will simply not allow for the club to move Justin Verlander or Miguel Cabrera.
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So what do you think? What will the Tigers do during the Winter Meetings? Tell us in the comments!