One thing we are going to talk about a lot here on Motor City Bengals is who the Tigers could, should, or would acquire. But these moves aren’t made without much thought on the part of the Tigers organization, and often there are roster restrictions that could preclude the Tigers from making a move. In other words, it’s easy for fans to say, “go out and get this guy…” but they don’t have to worry about who would get released.
In general, I am usually of the opinion that if a guy can help you on your 25 man roster, there should be plenty of the guys on the 40 man roster from which the team can separate. After all, if they could help, they would be on the 25 man roster. That isn’t always the case, because on the 40 man you do have young players that you protect from the rule 5 draft, because clubs feel they can help in the future. An example would be the Tigers protecting Avisail Garcia and Hernan Perez before the 2012 season, even though neither has been above A ball.
With these things in mind, I wanted to look at where the Tigers are at with their 40 man roster construction as it sits today. I’m not going to speculate on what minor league guys the Tigers may protect, simply because it’s often a futile exercise. Just know that some guys might be added in the near future to the roster.
Currently, the Tigers have 37 players right now on their 40 man roster after designating Don Kelly recently. That leaves three spots open for free agents if the Tigers wanted to use those spots this off-season. That of course doesn’t account for guys they might want to add for the Rule 5 draft. Assuming the Tigers will pick up a player or two, and want to add a couple for the Rule 5, it means they are likely going to have to find some guys to remove eventually. Do they even have them?
Strangely enough, it might not be as easy as you think for the Tigers. Out of the current 37 players on the 40 man roster, only two have not played in a major league game. Those are Tyler Stohr and Matt Hoffman. Hoffman is currently in the Arizona Fall League, and looked pretty good in spring last year, and Stohr was pretty highly thought of by the Tigers organization last year, and does have some potential as a usable bullpen piece. One other player, Hernan Perez, as we know only got a couple game cup of coffee last year, and isn’t considered a top prospect by the organization.
If the Tigers had to say, move five more players off of their roster, who would it be?
First, the easy one. Hernan Perez could likely be moved off the roster, and likely not missed by the organization. However, I do feel that someone would take a flier and pick him up. Perez potentially does have a future as an utility guy. He might be the only position guy that the Tigers could move off right now.
Catcher Bryan Holaday is essential unless Gerald Laird comes back, or the Tigers sign a catcher in the off-season. Danny Worth and Ramon Santiago seem redundant, but for a team that lacks defensive ability, Danny Worth is nice to have around should Jhonny Peralta sustain a lengthy injury. At least in that situation the Tigers would have a dependable defender to take over in Worth.
That leaves pitchers. There are several that could be removed, but they would have to be replaced with other pitchers. The Tigers are currently only carrying 21 pitchers. Ideally I think the club would like to have 22 or 23 pitchers on their 40 man. The ones that are close for removal? Matt Hoffman, Jose Ortega, Adam Wilk, Tyler Stohr, Daniel Schlereth and Luke Putkonen.
All of these guys have something that makes them worth having on a 40 man roster spot, but none are essential, and there is likely to be some minor league guys that are pushing them with the same talent level soon. Not to mention we are talking about relievers here, who are a inconsistent commodity, and can often be found cheaply.
Jeremy Jeffress, who I just suggested in an earlier article is an example. Who would I rather have? Jeffress or Putkonen? I could make a case for Jeffress pretty easily.
So we see, it’s not just the 25 man roster we have to think about when making moves. Really, GM’s have to think of the greater picture, and 40 man roster construction can be tricky. So when we are thinking of all our moves, keep in mind what it means to the roster, and if it’s something the Tigers can even do.