Five Free Agents The Detroit Tigers Should Pursue

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When Al Avila took over for Dave Dombrowski this week as the General Manager of the Detroit Tigers, he made it clear that the focus in the Motor City was still on winning, and that Mike Ilitch has let it be known that “the foot is on the pedal, hard.”

If that truly is the case, and it likely is, considering Ilitch’s affinity for loyalty and honesty, expect Detroit to be active in free agency, despite a disappointing 2015 season.

The short-list of free agents that Detroit should pursue are as follows:

1. Jordan Zimmerman:

Last offseason, Ilitch made it clear that he was not going to give Max Scherzer the lucrative deal that he expected. Similarly, it appeared that sort of offer would not be extended to David Price either. Which makes it unlikely that the Tigers’ owner would allow those two to walk out the door only to extend an offer of that nature to Johnny Cueto.

Zimmerman, however, may be more affordable for Detroit. The Nationals’ right-hander has not done himself any huge favors in a contract year, with a 3.44 ERA and a 8-7 record. However, in 2014 he was 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA, and the year before that, he was nearly a 20 game winner. A rotation with Zimmerman, Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, Daniel Norris, and Matt Boyd could vault the Tigers back into relevancy at a price they prefer.

2. Yoenis Cespedes:

Trading Cespedes at the 2015 deadline was, without question, the right move for Detroit. However, by no means does that mean that he should not be a Tiger in 2016.

In, to this point, his lone year at Comerica Park, Cespedes enjoyed his best season since his rookie year, and Detroit enjoyed his elite talent, and youth. In 102 games with the team, the left-fielder hit .293, hit 18 home-runs, drove in 61, and additionally provided elite defense.

Now, Cespedes has recently made statements about his desire to remain a Met, but it was also reported that he had serious interest in returning to Detroit. If that proves to be true, Al Avila should certainly come calling.

3. Darren O’Day:

Losing Dombrowski dealt a big blow to the Detroit faithful, but it is hard to argue against the fact that his negligence in regards to his bullpen was costly. In his first offseason at the helm, Al Avila should avoid making the same mistake.

As soon as free agency begins, O’Day should have an offer from the Tigers. The 32 year-old has a 1.31 ERA in 2015, and has not posted an ERA above 2.50 since 2011. Beyond that, he pitches in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in Major League Baseball.

Signing O’Day will not require the deal that it took the Yankees to sign Andrew Miller, and he will immediately stabilize the back end of the bullpen.

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4. Tyler Clippard:

Along with O’Day, Clippard will be one of the best relievers on the market. And, while he has not been dominant in 2015, he still represents a significant upgrade over anyone who pitched out of the Detroit bullpen in 2015, who was not named Alex Wilson or Joakim Soria.

Clippard has a 2.64 ERA in 2015, and 18 saves, with a 1.22 WHIP. Pairing O’Day, Clippard, and Wilson in the back of their bullpen would give Detroit the best unit they have had in that facet of the game in several years.

5. Mark Buehrle

Say what you will about Bueherle’s age or his low strikeout total, but at 36, the veteran still knows how to pitch, and pitch well.

Beyond that, he is a perfect remedy for what was one of Detroit’s biggest problems in 2015. While Dayton Moore added reliable, veteran arms to his staff, such as Chris Young, Dombrowski chose to rely on a thin rotation, aided only by the likes of Buck Farmer and Kyle Ryan.

It cost the Tigers.

Adding Buerhle would greatly benefit them. In 2015, the right-hander is 12-5 with a 3.34 ERA and is as durable as they come. He has pitched over 200 innings every year since 2000, and is on pace to accomplish that task once more in 2015. Adding Buehrle to solidify the back of the rotation, while having Boyd waiting in the wings, would help to greatly improve the Tigers going into 2016.

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