The Detroit Tigers have already had an offseason chock-full of turnover, and change. However, as Spring Training draws ever closer, there are still players on the market who could serve as valuable low-risk, high-reward additions to the club.
Of the remaining free agents, the three players who could provide the most benefit to Dave Dombrowski’s team are as follows:
1. Everth Cabrera – IF
It can be said that Everth Cabrera may be the only professional baseball players whose odds of being in jail on Opening Day are just as great as his odds of being under contract. After leading the league in stolen bases with 44, in 2012, Cabrera’s fall from grace was rapid. He stole an astounding 37 bases in just 95 games the following year, but was unable to add to that total due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Then, Cabrera was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana, and later resisting arrest.
If Cabrera is available, the Tigers should consider bringing him on board. Despite his past mistakes, his speed alone makes him a dangerous talent. Beyond that, Andrew Romine leaves much to be desired as the Tigers’ primary utility infielder, and being able to utilize Cabrera off the bench, as well as Rajai Davis, or Anthony Gose, would make the Tigers very scary in the playoffs. The disgraced shortstop can use Detroit as a good place to re-establish his worth on a short-term deal, and the Tigers can add talent that would normally cost much more.
2. Brandon Beachy – P
The Tigers technically have five starting pitchers on their roster. But not many in Motown are all that confident about the top of the rotation, let alone the bottom. And, despite being plagued by injuries, Brandon Beachy could help ease that tension, if he can return to form.
The injuries are scary, there is no denying that. Two Tommy John surgeries have essentially robbed Beachy of the last two seasons. But in 2012, he was phenomenal. In 13 games, he was 5-5, but his ERA was an impressive 2.00.
The Tigers should be an enticing landing spot for Beachy. He would have a viable opportunity to work his way into a shaky rotation on a good team, and nothing helps a pitcher showcase his value like the friendly confines of Comerica Park. Just ask Doug Fister.
3. Nate Schierholtz – OF
May 26, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz (19) crosses home plate after hitting a home run against the San Francisco Giants in the third inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Nate Schierholtz has been in the MLB for a long time, and he may have never had a worse year than his last. But for a win-now team that currently projects to rely heavily on Tyler Collins in some capacity, Schierholtz could be a cheap, but effective, short-term solution until Collins is truly ready.
Collins, the Tigers’ young outfielder, did not show the Detroit faithful much in his time with the Tigers in 2014. And while, admittedly, it was a limited stint, he started the season on the Opening Day roster last year, and did not last long then, either.
Schierholtz is a solid veteran outfielder, and while 2014 was his worst career year, 2013 was his best. In 137 games, two seasons ago, he hit 21 homeruns, and drove in 68 runs on a bad Cubs team. Lack of bench depth hurt the Tigers last year, and signing Schierholtz could keep that from being a problem for Detroit in 2015.
It seems as if Dombrowski has his roster pretty much set, but any one of these players, or another veteran reliever like Joe Beimel, or Burke Badenhop, could be a small signing with a big impact in 2015.