Where The Detroit Tigers Roster Stands Three Days Before Free Agency


The Detroit Tigers need to decide whether or not to offer Omar Infante a qualifying offer by Monday, November 4. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers have until Monday to either agree to new deals with their soon-to-be free agents or tender them qualifying offers before open season on free agents begins on Tuesday.

Dave Dombrowski really hasn’t hinted at his intentions with Joaquin Benoit, Jhonny Peralta, and Omar Infante, but here’s what we do know so far this offseason: Brayan Pena won’t be brought back, Jose Veras‘ option has been declined, and Matt Tuiasosopo and Darin Downs has been claimed off waivers. The Tigers will also have to decide what to do with fringe arbitration eligible players like Don Kelly and Phil Coke, but they don’t need to tender them with offers until December.

The interesting question for me as we move throughout the offseason process is always “what would the 25-man roster look like if they had to field a team today?” Right now we’re looking at:

Alex Avila
Bryan Holaday

First Base / DH
Prince Fielder
Victor Martinez

Miguel Cabrera
Jose Iglesias
Danny Worth
Hernan Perez

Austin Jackson
Torii Hunter
Andy Dirks
Nick Castellanos
Don Kelly*

Starting Pitchers
Justin Verlander
Max Scherzer
Anibal Sanchez
Doug Fister
Rick Porcello

Bruce Rondon
Drew Smyly
Al Alburquerque
Luke Putkonen
Jose Ortega
Evan Reed
Phil Coke*

*Coke and Kelly are candidates to be non-tendered in the arbitration process. At this point I think Coke is out but Kelly might be in. Replacing Coke then might be Jose Alvarez.

Besides a better option at second base than Worth or Perez — and I think they could still be a division champion and/or playoff team if they didn’t address that — the only issue remains the bullpen. And that issue will get even worse if they decide to deal away a starting pitcher and insert Drew Smyly into the starting rotation. I think we’re looking at two or three additional names in the pen to start the year, with at least one of them coming in free agency.

I have the above roster costing something like $150 million (basically the same as last year), so even if they trade someone like Porcello for a pre-arb player or two, they’re still likely to be at least $5-10 million higher to start the season if they address second base and the bullpen. That’s probably not a problem for Mike Ilitch, but we really don’t know what the budget constraints are going to be. It’s always possible, but I wouldn’t expect a particularly big name to be added at any point in the offseason.