While the Detroit Tigers nation is busy drooling over the possibility of Greinke and Price moving into the rotation, it is helpful to know that there are some more affordable pitchers available on the free-agent market. As we have already seen, it does not matter how much money is spent on a team (*cough* Dodgers *cough*cough* Tigers *cough*) because money does not buy playoff wins. If Al Avila has to put together a Detroit Tigers pitching rotation and bullpen with a limited budget, there are several free agents who will not empty the Ilitch wallet.
Aug 28, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Drew VerHagen (54) throws the ball during the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Avila has already clarified that the rotation needs to be filled. It is highly unlikely that the dollars will be spent on the aces that will command $100 million contracts. Jordan Zimmerman, Yovani Gallardo, and Scott Kazmir are all available this offseason. Zimmerman’s WAR is only a few digits below Price and Greinke. Are those wins worth $100 million? Probably not. But Zimmerman is coming off of a $16.5 million contract, instead of $23 million like Greinke. Kazmir is on the wrong side of 30, but not by much. He only pitched 73 innings in 2015 with the Astros and earned a 4.17 ERA. This wasn’t his worst season, but his numbers could allow a team to negotiate a lower salary than the $13 million he earned last year. Gallardo is coming off of a 3.42 ERA allowing only 15 home runs pitching for Texas. His price tag would be between Zimmerman and Kazmir’s. Avila should not forget that Doug Fister is available, too.
Once the rotation is filled, the bullpen must be addressed. The options are limited, so Avila might have to get creative with the arms he already has, like Drew Verhagen, Alex Wilson, and Buck Farmer. However, if Avila dives into the closers and relievers market, there are a few to consider. Darren O’Day is a right-handed reliever whose last contract was under $5 million; but after his All-Star season, he could hit the jackpot this year (probably not with Detroit). Tony Sipp is a left-handed reliever who could be a bargain for the Tigers. We’ve had success grabbing players from the Astros and Sipp could be another gem at an affordable price. Tyler Clippard is another possibility, especially if the Tigers can get him to agree to a lower salary than he earned with the A’s and the Mets last year.
Is it Friday yet?