October 11, 2014

Constructing a Roster

Tigers Gear Up for Different Team in '15 

What will the roster look like next year? These guys are free agents.

  • Victor Martinez
  • Max Scherzer
  • Joba Chamberlain
  • Torii Hunter
  • Phil Coke
Signing Victor Martinez makes a great deal of sense for the Tigers. 

Free to Be 

Do we re–sign any of them?

My first thought is that Martinez, Scherzer, and Hunter could contribute to the team. If it were up to me, I would offer Martinez a fair–market two–year contract and maybe a one–year offer to Hunter to be a part–time player — the bench guy we need alá Hernan Perez. Scherzer turned down a six–year offer, which I felt was too long an offer, so it's doubtful that he would consider anything less or any less amount of money. 

Chamberlain can move on, as can Coke. That's two less former Yankees, but that's not a slam on the New Yorkers — it's just an interesting fact. Chamberlain's second half was abysmal. Coke's career in Detroit has been up and down, mostly down. If Coke is gone and Scherzer also leaves that would mean that no one is left from the December 2009 blockbuster trade with the Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks. 

I suspect that Martinez may sign a short–term contract with the Cleveland Indians to finish up his career where he began; however, the Indians have some players who already play his role in Cleveland. It will be interesting to see how this works out. Scherzer may stay in Detroit but he also may sign a good contract with the St. Louis Cardinals so he can go "back home." For both of those ball players, I think it's 50–50 they may stay. If Hunter decides he wants to play "one more season," he could conceivably stay as a part–timer in the D. 

The Replacements

How would the Tigers replace the free agents? Chamberlain and Coke are part of the bullpen rebuild. It has to be blown up. Hunter's defense is a liability. He can still hit. Martinez' bat and leadership are key to the team. He's worth possibly overspending on to keep. 

Scherzer is a great starter but it's becoming clear that there is more to World Championship teams than great starting pitching. It might be time to consider that a solid starting staff that might include guys like Brad Penny (no, I'm not saying bring him back …) or Drew Smyly (do we make that trade again?) or someone similar and put together a bullpen that can be used in the seventh, eighth, and ninth. 

I suspect that we could be looking at a blockbuster this offseason. I think there are only a couple of players immune from a possible trade. I really don't think the Tigers will trade for more superstars; instead, I think they may deal a superstar for quality parts. 

As far as free agents, could we look at Andrew Miller? We were close to trading for him in July, so why not talk to him? You could argue that Smyly in the bullpen (Fister trade, my friends?) or even Miller would have been better than the Price(y) trade. 

The Quiet Conundrum

One major obstacle that must be considered is the disconnect between David Price and the Detroit Tigers. Price is a modern day Jim Slaton because he's not coming back to the Tigers. I suspect he may take a serious hometown discount to return to the Tampa Rays. Do the Tigers trade him now and acquire talent or wait a year and offer him a qualifying offer and take the draft picks? I never knew much about Price as a Ray, but just saw a total disconnect when he joined the Tigers. Could we ship him out in a complicated multi–team trade where the Tigers, ahem, could bring in some true parts that will help the team instead of having a mega superstar for the rotation. 

The Tigers rotation will include Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Anibal Sanchez in 2015. I'm not convinced the Price will return, nor Scherzer. So, essentially, we would have to fill to slots, and there are no obvious choices to fill them. Verlander will probably relish becoming the true ace again, and fully healthy, will probably be back to his 2011 or 2012 self. I'm not convinced Robbie Ray is ready now, or ever will be. Maybe Kyle Lobstein will develop, but he might be more valuable in a relief role in '15. Could a Price trade return a potential starter and some relief help. If the Tigers decide to trade away Price, I only hope it's a better trade than the failed Doug Fister trade. The Fister trade made no sense when it happened, nor know. 

Robbie Ray

Window Closing

The Tigers' window is not closing. Look at how teams like the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals continue to rebuild on the fly without paying big bucks for big names. The Royals of Kansas City and the Baltimore Orioles also don't necessarily pay the big bucks and they're playing for the American League Championship. I don't think the Tigers' window is closing; they just have to make more economical and efficient moves to fill their (many) gaps. The manager probably was overmatched this season. I'm not even saying the Brad Ausmus is a bad manager — he's a bad manager on this relatively good team. The 2014 Detroit Tigers, after April, never felt like a team destined to win it all, even though they beat the heck out of the Kansas City Royals all season and the Royals will probably play in the World Series. But the window isn't closing. Yet. 


  • Hire recently–fired Ron Gardenhire to manage the team and "make talent a team" 
  • Rebuild the bullpen, even considering eating the contract of Joe Nathan
  • Find some bench players, including maybe keeping Torii Hunter for such a role 
  • Shore up centerfield
  • Find a couple of pitchers to fill some holes after the "big three" or four; Justin Verlander will be ready for a return to form next year 
Justin Verlander is primed for a return to form in 2015

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