It’s been nearly two weeks since I wrote up anything for WW. In that week I finished a much needed vacation and launched a new business project that will start sometime next year. Both of those things prevented me from doing anything with the blog. Granted, this offseason is already 100% different than last year (at this point DD had already signed Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit and re-upped Inge and Peralta). While he has brought back Ramon Santiago and Gerald Laird (both excellent low-cost solid signs) the offseason has been pretty quiet. Some of that may have something to do with Yoenis Cespedes, who is the most interesting Free Agent (to be) on the market. If the Tigers sign him, great, but I doubt he’ll be major league ready by Spring Training and will probably spend most of 2012 in Toledo. DD is planning to visit the Talented Mr. Cespedes in the Dominican Republic soon.
The Winter Meetings are about to begin today. There’s going to be some serious changes beginning on Monday and the Tigers are “expected” to be major players in the trade market, whatever that means (isn’t everyone a player at this point?”. I want to look at the Tigers current roster and a reasonable roster that would be ideal for the 2012 season given what we know so far.
They absolutely need a leadoff hitter. Austin Jackson is a wonderful Center Fielder but his strikeouts are basically unjustifiable.
They need either an everyday third baseman or second baseman. To obtain both in the current market is slightly unreasonable, but to grab one is necessary.
A fifth start is a want, not a need despite reports. I’d be a fan of seeing how Jacob Turner could do in this role. Rick Porcello was given an opportunity in 2009 and has been an asset (whether some of us like to admit it or not) for three years and he was about the same as and developmental stage back then as Turner is now.
Current 25 Man Roster (albeit slightly assumed in a few areas)
POS Player 2012 Salary/Contract Amount and Situation
C- Alex Avila $425K
1B- Miguel Cabrera $21M
2B- Ryan Raburn $2.1M
3B- Brandon Inge $5.5M
SS- Jhonny Peralta $5.5M
LF- Delmon Young Arbitration – $6-8M salary assumed
CF- Austin Jackson $440K
RF- Brennan Boesch $430K
DH- Victor Martinez $13M
BN- Ramon Santiago $2.1M
BN- Gerald Laird $1M
BN- Danny Worth $440K or thereabouts
BN- Donald Kelly $440K or thereabouts
SP- Justin Verlander $20M
SP- Doug Fister $437K
SP- Max Scherzer Arbitration – $6-8M Salary assumed
SP- Rick Porcello $1.344M – Club Option picked up
SP- Jacob Turner $1.175M
RP- Jose Valverde $9M
RP- Joaquin Benoit $5.5M
RP- Phil Coke Arbitration – $2-4M Salary assumed
RP- Ryan Perry $440K
RP- Al Alburquerque $440K
RP- Daniel Schlereth $440K
RP- David Pauley $440K
25 Total Roster Size Loose Payroll – $111.591M
The amount of payroll isn’t entirely accurate, but close enough to what they could be at if they make no moves and open the year with this roster. Additions like Pauley, Schlereth and the likes are replacement level contracts at or near minimum salary and if they aren’t on the roster they would most likely be replaced by like players around the same salary.
Since 2006 here are the Tigers opening day payrolls:
• 2011: $106,953,000
• 2010: $133,995,400
• 2009: $115,085,145
• 2008: $137,685,196
• 2007: $ 95,180,369
• 2006: $ 82,612,866
The arbitration eligible players, Young, Scherzer, and Coke are assumed at a combined $20M, as long as upper management doesn’t non-tender any of them (which they won’t) and are included in the almost current $112M.
Now, that Jose Reyes has signed with the Marlins, that insanely injury-prone monkey is off the Tigers back and a few more realistic Free Agents (or Highly Priced Athletes for Hire) can be discussed. The Tigers are looking for a 5th starter and a reliever as well, according to reports, but they aren’t priorities as much as wants and unless they sign Mark Buerhle, there wouldn’t be much of a difference in replacement wins as would starting Jacob Turner.
Free Agent Possibilities
LF/OF Coco Crisp – Speed, a much needed leadoff bat, defense, could sign cheap and play left field. But bad OBP and hair has its downsides. I wonder if he shaved his head, would he be any faster?
LF/OF Josh Willingham – Love this undervalued player. Sign-ability depends on if they get Cespedes since he is worth a multi-year deal. I would rather sign him for roughly $8M per year rather than Young.
2B Kelly Johnson – Not a fan of his sketchy history but if he could be signed for $5-6M he is a better option than a platoon of Raburn/Santiago.
3B Aramis Ramirez – A clubhouse cancer, Ramirez would create as much trouble as Inge does at the plate. The addition of his salary would behoove DD from signing him. I’d rather have Reyes and I hate Reyes.
SS Jimmy Rollins – I like Rollins even though he’d be around $10-12M. Peralta would move to third and stabilize the left side of the infield. Would be a solid pickup.
Possible Trade Acquisitions
Martin Prado – He is available and if the Tigers could fetch Prado for Delmon Young and perhaps one of their young relievers – hell, I don’t really care what they trade for him as long as it gets Prado in Detroit – it would be one of the better moves DD could make. If they could sign Rollins and have Peralta/Rollins/Prado/Cabrera manning the infield, I would be ok with Young or Raburn patrolling left field.
If the Tigers are mentioned with anyone else on the trade market I’ll update it accordingly.