Detroit Tigers started out with hope thanks to a core that included Detroit Tigers started out with hope thanks to a core that included Detroit Tigers started out with hope thanks to a core that included

Detroit Tigers Offseason Primer


The 2015 Detroit Tigers started out with hope thanks to a core that included Miguel Cabrera, David Price, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and new addition Yoenis Cespedes. Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello may have departed in the offseason, but replacements Shane Greene and Alfredo Simon were viewed as competent rotation fillers capable of being successful. With those players and the likes of Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias and Justin Verlander, there was potential to do something special.

Fast forward to the end of the season and all that potential was wasted in one way or another. The team was plagued by injuries and inconsistency, not to mention a faulty bullpen that often conjured up descriptions like “Achilles heel” and “self-imploding.” Greene and Simon’s struggles didn’t exactly help either.

Now, with Price, Cespedes and Joakim Soria no longer with the team, and a litany of needs, the offseason should bring about quite a bit of change for the Tigers. Here’s a brief look at Detroit’s needs, who could fill those needs and who Detroit could conceivably trade.


Starting Pitching

Sep 6, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA. Image via Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Generally a strength of the Tigers, the team’s starting pitching was collectively and comparatively very poor during the 2015 season. Outside of a half season of Price, a resurgent Verlander and eight starts from the centerpiece of the Price blockbuster Daniel Norris, there wasn’t much to write home about.

Anibal Sanchez’ ERA ballooned to 4.99, thanks largely to an increased number of home runs allowed. The former Marlin led the league in home runs allowed per nine innings in 2013, but gave up a major league-leading 29 last season. The sad reality of the situation is that Sanchez was the team’s best starting pitcher not named Price, Verlander or Norris. Simon and Kyle Lobstein posted earned run averages north of 5.00, while Greene, Matt Boyd and Randy Wolf’s ERAs eclipsed the 6.00 mark.

Thankfully, Al Avila has already stated that he will add two starting pitchers this offseason. In a Detroit Free Press story, the relatively new Tigers’ general manager is quoted as saying, “I think two starting pitchers added to that rotation will bring down some of these guys that we don’t want to force feed and we want there in Triple-A and it will give us some of the depth that we need.”

In other words, the Tigers can send those young pitchers with staggering ERAs to the minors to help them develop.

Potential Additions

With so many starting pitchers potentially hitting the open market, the Tigers could be spoiled for choice. From frontline starters like Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to back-end-of-the-rotation options like Brett Anderson and Doug Fister, there’s plenty to choose from.

The case could be made for the Tigers signing any one of these players. They’re all fits. It simply comes down to money and how much Avila and company want to splurge.

Left Field

After Cespedes was traded, left field immediately became a position of need for Detroit. Rajai Davis failed to live up to the billing he earned in 2014, while Steven Moya doesn’t seem polished enough to start in the big leagues. Fellow outfielder Tyler Collins showed promise, but he profiles as more of a fourth outfielder/platoon type than a full-time starter.

With J.D. Martinez and, to a lesser degree, Anthony Gose established in right and center field respectively, left field remains the problem spot.

Potential Additions

Oct 30, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York. Image via Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Like Price, Cespedes could be available. Like Price, he also could command a significant amount of money. Outside of Cespedes, the only other top-flight free agent option is Justin Upton. However, the outfielder hit .251 with the Padres last season and likely will also be seeking a hefty contract. In terms of All-Star caliber players, right fielder Jason Heyward could be signed, with Martinez shifting to left field. The team could also pursue cheaper options like Colby Rasmus, Gerardo Parra and David Murphy. Starting options like Jay Bruce or Carlos Gonzalez could be pursued via trade.

The Bullpen

If the Tigers’ rotation was bad, the bullpen was worse. Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy proved to be the only dependable relievers once Soria was traded. Other than that, the cupboard was bare.

The generally dependable Al Alburquerque and Tom Gorzelanny both struggled, as did just about every other reliever.

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The team’s most used relievers besides Wilson, Hardy and Alburquerque were as follows: Gorzelanny, Bruce Rondon, Neftali Feliz and Ian Krol. Those last names may help you win in Scrabble, but they certainly didn’t help the Tigers win. None posted an ERA lower than 5.79.

Potential Additions

Just as with the rotation, every available reliever with a track record is a conceivable fit. A closer will be at the top of the priority list, as will top set up relievers. Soria makes sense, as do the likes of Darren O’Day, Mark Lowe, Tommy Hunter and Tyler Clippard. Wade Davis would be a particularly intriguing addition if the Royals decline his club option.

Who the Tigers Could Trade Away

With so many needs and a lack of real depth, it would be surprising to see the Tigers deal any of the team’s starting position players, unless they receive an overly-significant return. The same goes for the few dependable relievers and starters the team employs.

One player who could be dealt is Sanchez. Should Avila succeed in finding starting pitching reinforcements, he could flip Sanchez and the pitcher’s contract in a deal for an equally large contract that fills a need, similar to the Prince Fielder/Ian Kinsler swap.

Aug 5, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA. Image via Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Two other names that could be dealt: Rondon and Andrew Romine.

Rondon would only be dealt if the Tigers felt like cutting bait on the reliever and moving on from the situation. Additionally, Romine could be dealt if the team feels like Dixon Machado is ready to assume the role of utility infielder.

Regardless of who Detroit targets, buckle up and get ready for a busy offseason in the Motor City. The Tigers aren’t going to be content with a rebuild and the losing that accompanies it. Expect Avila to vastly overhaul and improve the Detroit Tigers during the offseason.