The Detroit Tigers are widely considered to be done with roster moves this offseason — general manager Dave Dombrowski basically said as much — but what we’ve learn to expect from the organization is not to expect anything. Perhaps we won’t see any big news before spring training (or even opening day), but there are still a few rumors floating around concerning possible upcoming moves.
The biggest name in free agency remaining has never played in a single major league game. And although the Tigers aren’t expected to be big players for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, Detroit News writer Tony Paul thinks they stand a good chance of at least submitting a $20 million posting bid to earn the right to enter into negotiations with Tanaka and his agent. That probably wouldn’t end up being big news, however, since the bigger surprise would be if any MLB didn’t submit a $20 million bid.
Paul, like many, thinks Tanaka will ultimately end up wearing pin stripes:
Tanaka, interestingly, might’ve tipped his hand Wednesday when he announced Casey Close would be his agent. Close, a University of Michigan alumnus, has built his empire around representing good pal and Yankees legend Derek Jeter.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has reported that the Tigers are one of three teams known to have shown interest in right-handed reliver Luis Ayala. Ayala isn’t a dominating late-inning type reliever, but he could provide some reliability in the middle innings for an otherwise quite questionable bullpen. An potential Ayala signing shouldn’t get fans overly excited, but he’s not likely to implode out of the pen, and the added depth would be useful. Hopefully we’re not talking about a lot of money if the Tigers nab him, probably not more than $1 million.
Ayala’s groundball rate ranked 15th in MLB. In addition to the aforementioned teams, I think clubs such as the Yankees, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, and Brewers may be fits for Ayala. It seems likely that the free agent market will pick back up starting Monday as executives return to the office.
Jason Beck thinks that if the Tigers are going to make another big splash this winter, it’s going to come in the form of an extension for a current player, not a new deal for someone outside the organization. Max Scherzer is entering his final season of arbitration eligibility and, as Beck points out, the Tigers strive to work out negotiated deals rather than having each side present their case in front of an arbiter. It’s possible that the one-year talks could morph into discussions that keep Max in the Olde English D for awhile.
The Tigers’ history under Dombrowski suggests they’ll try to avoid arbitration before delving too deeply into long-term talks, though in some cases over the years the two have gone in hand-in-hand. A one-year extension could then be factored into a longer-term deal if the two sides can reach one.
I’m one that thinks the Tigers shouldn’t be overly hasty in their effort to re-sign their (latest) Cy Young Award winner — I’d rather see huge sums of money sunk into hitters than pitchers — but Scherzer would clearly be a nice player to keep around so long as his salary demands are reasonable.