Despite public demand, the Detroit Tigers did little to alter their unreliable bullpen after being swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS. Outside of adding Alex Wilson in the deal for Yoenis Cespedes, adding Tom Gorzelanny and re-signing Joel Hanrahan, the Tigers’ bullpen is not vastly different from a year ago. However, several good arms still remain on the market, and Dave Dombrowski would be wise to consider adding them.
K-Rod poses an interesting situation for the Tigers, because while he may not have been a realistic addition at the beginning of the offseason he could be now. Originally, it was widely (and safely) assumed that the veteran reliever would command closer money, or at least demand to be in that role after posting 44 saves in 2014. However, it now seems as if teams are wary of taking that risk. This is in large part due to the fact that from opening day to May 10 his ERA was 0.00 in 19 appearances, but after that, from May 11 to September 27th, in 50 appearances, his ERA was 4.22.
If Rodriguez is willing to step out of the closer role, Detroit should strongly considering signing him. Having Hanrahan and Bruce Rondon is nice, but neither can be relied on, and without signing insurance such as K-Rod, bridging the gap between the rotation and the back end of the bullpen could be a daunting task for Brad Ausmus.
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Soriano is similar to Rodriguez in that he may have to distance himself from the closer role in order to find himself a reasonable deal. This is largely because he posted a 6.48 ERA in the second half of 2014 en route to losing the closer role in Washington to Drew Storen. However, despite that 6.48 ERA, Soriano finished with a 3.19 ERA on the year, and has been one of the most dependable relievers in the game since breaking on to the scene with Seattle in 2002. That 3.19 ERA, by the way? It would have been one of the best in the Tigers’ bullpen in 2014.
The former Washingon National could be enticed to come to Comerica and play for a contender with a closer spot that could be up for grabs by the All-Star break.
Wilson, as many fans in Detroit remember, was almost the Tigers’ closer, before the two parties decided against each other. That decision ended poorly for both sides. There is no telling whether or not Wilson would have avoided his miserable 2014 year had he come to Detroit, but one thing is for certain, the first year of the Joe Nathan era was one to forget.
One year later, the two sides should re-consider each other. While Wilson had a terrible year in 2014, he is a good bounce-back candidate. Prior to posting a 4.66 ERA in 2014, Wilson had a 0.66 ERA in 2013, albeit in just 18 appearances. And, while he has suffered a fall from grace, in his tenure with the Giants he was an eccentric, dominant presence.
Detroit could get value from any one of these three veteran relievers, but Wilson provides the most potential as a low-risk, high-reward opportunity for Dave Dombrowski.