Tackling the Tigers 40-Man Roster


Over at BlessYouBoys.com, TigerDog1 recently discussed the upcoming Rule 5 draft from the Tigers perspective. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to check it out. He’s been a regular over at BYB for a long time who routinely features quality content over there.

After reading his piece, I thought we might as well dive into the discussion over here at MCB too. With the November 23rd deadline right around the corner, I thought I’d take a stab at predicting what the Tigers may do too.

What’s the Rule 5 Draft?

The Rule 5 draft is a Major League Baseball player draft that occurs each year in December, at the annual Winter Meeting of general managers. The Rule 5 draft aims to prevent teams from stockpiling too many young players on their minor league affiliate teams when other teams would be willing to have them play in the majors. The Rule 5 Draft is named for its place in Major League Rules.

–Thanks Wikipedia

Who’s Eligible This Year?
All college players from the 2008 draft and all High School players from the 2007 draft are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft unless they are added to the 40-man roster.

Anything Else?
If a club selects a player in the draft, they must keep that player on their 25-man MLB roster for the duration of the season. If not, they must then offer that player back to his original club before sending the player to the minor leagues.

Top Tigers Prospects At Risk:
Casey Crosby
Matt Hoffman
Gustavo Nunez
Jay Voss
Justin Henry
Scott Green
Ben Guez
Jordan Lennerton
Brandon Douglas
Bryan Pounds
Thad Weber
Tyler Stohr
Cody Satterwhite
Robbie Weinhardt 
Jared Gayhart

Current Roster:
The Detroit Tigers currently have 34 players on their 40-man roster. However, they need to address a few areas this off-season. At the very least I would anticipate that they’d leave three to four spots open. Those spots would allow them to address second-base, third-base, a starter and a reliever. Perhaps even five though when you consider the need for a backup catcher.  To achieve even more free space they may chose to trim some of the dead weight on the roster. Prospects like Duane Below, Luis Marte, Adam Wilk and Ryan Strieby would almost certainly have spots on the updated roster. I honestly can’t picture them letting Will Rhymes or Danny Worth go either. Three current names on the 40-man roster are possibilities to be removed; we’ll dive into that later though. First lets see what the Tigers have done over the past two seasons.

Past Pre-Rule 5 Activity:
Looking back at their recent past tells a much different story than I expected. Heading into the 2009 season the Tigers added five, leaving just two free spots. Last season they added six to the 40-man roster, leaving no room at all. Keep in mind, when they made these moves they still needed to address areas of concern. They also added more players via free-agency and trade.

How is that possible?
The list isn’t necessarily set in concrete at that point in time. However, things become a bit trickier. If the Tigers make any major league free agent signings, another player will have to be designated for assignment in order to accommodate the incoming player. If they chose the trade route, they would have to swap a 40-man roster player for each one they received. Of course there’s always the possibility that one or more of the current players are removed from the 40-man roster before the deadline, so they can add a more valuable player.

Who falls into that category?

Possible Candidates:

Cale Iorg
The “shortstop of the future” and former sixth round pick hit just .208 for the AAA-Toledo Mud Hens last season. He was demoted to AA-Erie at seasons end where he went on to hit a robust .167. The 26-year-old also committed a combined 26 errors last season. Is it time to finally pull the plug on Iorg?

Clete Thomas
The former 6th round pick of the 2005 draft hit just .251 for the AAA-Toledo Mud Hens last season. Thomas hasn’t been in the big league roster since 2009. With our logjam of outfielders do we really still need Clete?

Jose Ortega
Last season Ortega was added to the 40-man roster and highly regarded as a top ten prospect. Unfortunately he posted a 6.30 ERA and opposing batters hit .310 against him over 50 innings. Crumby results, but I can’t see them ditching him to add someone with better results and a lower ceiling.

I think that the Tigers will remove two guys to protect more valuable talent. The moves would allow them to still tackle free agency this off-season. A move or two would have to come via trade though or more tinkering would have to take place.

With the current stockpile of outfielders, the Tigers will remove Clete Thomas. I don’t see why or how they can justify keeping Cale Iorg around either. I did bring up Ortega, but I can’t see the Tigers giving up on a 23-year-old so I highly doubt they’ll remove him. The removal of Thomas and Iorg would push the roster back to 32 giving them a bit of room for additions.

So, Who Will They Add?
The most obvious addition would of course be Casey Crosby. Relievers Matt Hoffman and Tyler Stohr should almost certainly be added too. Converted starter Jay Voss had an outstanding season and I can’t see them not protecting him. Gustavo Nunez still needs plenty of seasoning in the minors but he also seems like a lock to me. I honestly cannot see the speedy, slick fielding shortstop left off the roster. The addition of those five names would bump the roster to 37 leaving just 3 open spots.

With the free-agent options limited at third-base and second-base this off-season, I believe the Tigers are more likely to make a trade for one or the other. I believe they might try to clear out some of their logjam of questionable relievers too. While it may seem odd to have four or five needs and only three open spots, it’s certainly not difficult to make it work. Although the rosters will be set, tinkering can be done.

Anyone Who Might Not Survive?
Of the renaming names, I really can only see Weinhardt or Douglas possibly being taken. The chance of that happening are pretty slim though. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see teams stick with what they’ve got and refuse to even make a selection. Still, there would be a chance of losing either of them or anyone unprotected for that matter.

I encourage you to comment and predict the moves in the comment section below. Give it a try and perhaps we can re-visit the predictions later and see who was closest to being correct.


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