Tigers to retool for 2016


Aug 8, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers executive vice president and general manager Al Avila before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, Lynn Henning — Tiger beat writer for The Detroit News — hit the nail on the head when he said the “Tigers’ free-agent pursuit will be robust, expensive.”

Yes, the Tiger payroll is already around $150-million bucks, and yes, the Tigers need to spend big money in a number of areas. The Tigers’ wish list will include:

Starting pitching.

A bonafide closer and additional bullpen help.

An everyday left-fielder.

Starter(s) Sought 

The Tigers have Justin Verlander, Daniel Norris and Anibal Sanchez for sure. But, Alfredo Simon is likely gone, and Shane Greene; probably not in the rotation. The Tigers do have some young arms in Matt Boyd and Michael Fulmer. Boyd saw action this season, but went 1-6 with a 7.53 ERA. Fulmer dominated Double-A Erie and Binghamton, earning the crown of Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. Chances are, both Boyd and Fulmer start the year in Triple-A Toledo.

There are a number of available pitchers out there, including that of David Price and Zack Greinke. However, don’t expect the Tigers to spend in the neighborhood of $200M on an arm, as the Tigers didn’t do the same for Max Scherzer after 2014.

The Tigers will probably sign less expensive options, such as Jeff Samardzija, who was rumored as a trade target for the Tigers prior to the July 31 trade deadline. I don’t expect the Tigers to make a huge splash when it comes to a starter, but, we could be surprised. I think that what they will get will likely be a bit better than Alfredo Simon was this year.

Bullpen Help Wanted

Personally, I would first love to see the Tigers get a bona-fide, big-name closer. I had hoped that the Tigers would have dealt for Craig Kimbrel before the 2015 season. Kimbrel — as baseball fans should know — was dealt to San Diego, where he saved some 39 games this season. He averages about 45 saves a season since 2011, and has led the NL in saves from 2011-2014; and seems like a no-brainer for the Tigers.

Jun 26, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) pumps his fist after recording the last out of a 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Other free agent bullpen arms that might show up on the Tigers’ radar could be Darren O’Day and Tyler Clippard. However, someone like left-hander  J.P. Howell — a Dodger lefty — would be nice. Also a free agent, Howell has a $6.25M club option — and will command even more money — making him a tougher player for most to land (if he can be taken away from L.A.).

Lockdown left field

A left fielder for that matter — would be a great gift for the Tigers this offseason. The biggest name — or most popular — out there is Kansas City’s Alex Gordon. The young Royal outfielder is recovering from a groin injury that sidelined him for a good portion of the second half of the season.

Gordon will be expensive — as the 32 year-old has a $12.5M player option that climbed to $14M after bonuses. However, given Kansas City’s small-market status, the likelihood of Gordon getting a big, long-term deal from the Royals seems unlikely to me.

After combing through the list of free agent left fielders, I think that Gerardo Parra is a great fit. Not only is he much cheaper than a guy like Alex Gordon or even Yoenis Cespedes, but Parra has been seen at the top of the assist leader lists in recent seasons. Parra finished the year hitting .291, sharing time between Milwaukee and Baltimore, with 159 hits, 14 home runs and 51 RBI. Given the discount in salary, Parra could be a productive, yet less-sexy option for Detroit.

When it’s all said and done, Al Avila’s deals will be scrutinized, I’m sure, by fans and otherwise. It would be great if the Tigers really scouted what they are looking to get, rather than open Mr. I’s checkbook in order to cure what ails this squad. I don’t necessarily think that busting through $200M in payroll will automatically be the cure. Seems like bad medicine to me.