Mar 28, 2013; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Devon Travis (3) leaps for a ground ball during the eighth inning against the Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium. Houston defeated Detroit 11-4. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers Rumor Roundup: The Latest on Masahiro Tanaka, Bullpen Help, and Prospects Who Could Make The Squad

The Detroit Tigers rumor mill is churning at minimum speed these days. They haven’t been linked to a free agent in more than a week and, although it’s been speculated that they might participate in the Masahiro Tanaka bidding, they aren’t thought to be a big enough player to land the Japanese superstar.

Apparently the Chicago Cubs are planning to make a nine-figure offer to Tanaka, but even that might not be enough ultimately sign him.

The Cubs are prepared to make a nine-figure investment in Tanaka, according to a source familiar with the team’s thinking. A 25-year-old Japanese ace would fit into the long-range business/baseball plans at a renovated Wrigley Field and a future TV network. But multiple officials have predicted the money is going to get “silly” and another desperate, free-spending team will blow them away with more years and dollars.

Detroit has been that team in the past – they came out of nowhere to give all of the money to Prince Fielder – but nothing about the way the organization has operated this offseason suggests that they’re prepared to take on a contract like that.

There has been speculation by many fans that Dave Dombrowski might be one to swoop in late to nab another reliever – someone like Grant Balfour – but besides last week’s connection to Luis Ayala, what we’re seeing is little more than wishful thinking on the part of the fan base.

The closest thing we have to an actual report is Lynn Henning’s most recent piece about prospects, and how the Tigers may look to a few for help in 2014. There’s nothing particularly new here, but there is a quote from Al Avila in which he implies that some youngsters “have a chance”.

“These still are young guys, but they still have a chance,” said Al Avila, the Tigers assistant general manager who oversees Detroit’s minor league system. “Some of these players are really close to the big leagues right now.”

Henning names pretty much every prospect who has either (1) appeared in the big leagues over the past two seasons, (2) was named on a top ten prospect list this offseason, or (3) received a spring training invitation, but the basic gist is:

  • Fast-riser Corey Knebel stands the best chance of making an impact in 2014.
  • Casey Crosby will be pitching out of the bullpen and could earn a big league look.
  • Hernan Perez will again likely be the first guy up from Toledo should the Tigers need an infielder.
  • Dark horse Devon Travis is a candidate to pass Perez if he picks up where he left off in 2013.
  • Robbie Ray is probably the first guy up should the Tiger need a starter.

We pretty much knew all of this — or at least could guess this — but Avila’s comments provide some insight into how the organization views each of these players.

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