As the powers that be amongst Major League baseball gather for the annual winter meetings, the Detroit Tigers will be in the conversation, as always.
Detroit enters December with one primary trade chip and that is shortstop Jhonny Peralta. A number of teams are interested in his services as a full-time 3rd baseman. He is signed for just one year at $6M, which makes him an attractive piece to just about anyone looking.
Below is a list of the most recent updates and potential happenings as the month of December springs into action across MLB.
Potential to Leave
As stated above, Peralta is a very likely trade option. Detroit is still inquiring into the services of shortstop Stephen Drew. The Tigers want him on a short-term deal, as do most other teams. Drew is entering his age 30 season and would love to have some additional security, but he must know that if he takes a short contract, even just one year, and tears it up, that teams will be throwing all kinds of money his way a year from now.
To Tigers fans, the Drew rumors seem to have cooled off a bit, which is usually just about the time that GM Dave Dombrowski pounces. Stay tuned.
Detroit only non-tendered one of their arbitration eligible players and that was lefty reliever Daniel Schlereth. It was more who they did tender that was of note though, and that included outfielder Brennan Boesch.
Don’t take the Tigers offering Boesch a contract as a guarantee that he’ll be with the club in spring training. The Tigers have a logjam in left field with Boesch, Andy Dirks, and Quintin Berry. All 3 of these players are very doubtful to break camp on the roster together. Other teams have been calling on Boesch and the Tigers will listen, but only if the price is right. Boesch still has a ceiling that he hasn’t hit and if his confidence can be restored, along with his ability to hit average fastballs, then he could be one of those players that comes back to bite the Tigers if they let him go.
Unlikely to Leave
A bunch of teams have been blowing up Dombrowski’s phone about Rick Porcello’s availability. As of now Dombrowski is saying that he isn’t taking offers to heart, but that could change. The main reason the Tigers would ship off Porcello is if they somehow reacquire Anibal Sanchez. More on that in a minute.
Another player rumored as a potential trade piece from the Tigers is Andy Dirks. With his ability to play left and right field and solid credentials against left-handed pitching, he seems like a guy who will remain with the club for the time being. For now, Dirks is slated to play left on a mostly everyday basis.
Experts and prognositcators far and wide continue to rumor just about every available closer in the Tigers’ direction. Dombrowski repeatedly refutes these rumors, indicating instead that Detroit will give rookie-to-be Bruce Rondon a legitimate shot at the gig.
Keep in mind that the Tigers already have about $10M tied up next year in the names of Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel. In my opinion, Detroit would be financially foolish to throw a huge contract at a Rafael Soriano or the like. Give Rondon first crack at it. If he falters, the Tigers have enough depth with Benoit, Dotel, Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque, etc. to get the job done.
Keep your eyes and ears open for the Peralta trade. That could happen as soon as this week if Detroit locks in on Drew. This is the most likely take away from the winter meetings for the Tigers.
But doesn’t that just seem kind of bland for a Tigers offseason? With Dombrowski’s creativity in mind, don’t be surprised to see something wild and ‘out of the blue’ take place. Such a deal could involve Porcello or Boesch, or both.
One thing most fans would rather not see is a move that would compromise the depth of the Tigers’ minor league system. With so little in the way of top-end prospects, Detroit needs to hold tight on guys like Avisail Garcia and Nick Castellanos.
Despite his lofty goals of 6-7 years and $90-100M, the Tigers haven’t completely given up on signing Anibal Sanchez. I simply don’t see Detroit giving him anything north of a 5-year deal though. If Sanchez wants to assure himself of the privilege of playing on a championship-caliber team like Detroit, then he might have to make a few concessions along the way. It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out. The Tigers certainly aren’t the odds-on favorites to get Anibal, but stranger things have happened.
And those stranger things are what Tiger fans have almost come to expect at this time of year. Might Detroit package up something huge, including a Castellanos, to grab a star-caliber right-handed hitting outfielder to play left, or an off the radar shortstop like Asdrubal Cabrera? Of course they might. Owner Mike Ilitch is desperate to win now, which must make being Dave Dombrowski an awful lot of fun.
But remember, the goal in the regular season is to be at least good enough to make the playoffs. As we saw just a few months ago, from there anything can happen.
As it sits right now, the Tigers are easily the team to beat in the AL Central once again. A major overhaul is not required. Shoring up the middle defense and getting some better on-base skills in the batting order should just about do it.
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