Detroit Tigers: Two Big Off-Season Questions
Now that the Detroit Tigers have signed a closer, it is apparent that Al Avila is ready to build a winning team. The next step for him is to fill the two empty spots on the starting rotation. There have been some interesting discussions lately about two recognizable names in the National League. The first question is about an old friend, Doug Fister. The second question is about Matt Harvey from the New York Mets.
Question #1: Should Doug Fister come back to Detroit?
Jul 18, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) throws to the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
When Doug Fister pitched for the Tigers, he was a successful pitcher who finished every season with a win-loss percentage at or above .500. In his three years with the team, his ERA averaged 3.29 and his WHIP was 1.191. In his first year with the Washington Nationals, he finished ninth in the Cy Young votes. Even though 2015 was not his best year, there is no reason why Fister would not be successful in Detroit.
He was an extremely popular player in Detroit and the fans were disappointed in Dombrowski’s infamous “Doug Fister Trade.” They questioned the value and reasoning behind it, especially since none of the pieces (Robbie Ray, Ian Krol, and Steve Lombardozzi) the Tigers acquired for Fister were an asset to the team.
The only issue with Doug Fister is his final contract with the Nationals. In 2015, he earned $11 million. When he left the Tigers, he was earning $4 million. But, his 4.19 ERA and .417 win-loss percentage, his value could shrink in 2016. If the Tigers do bring back Fister, they do not need to trade any vital pieces for him; he simply gets a contract, and the Tigers get a good pitcher.
Question #2: Should the Tigers make a trade for Matt Harvey?
Answer: Emphatically, NO!
Nov 1, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning in game five of the World Series at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Julie Jacobson/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
On the east coast, Mets fans have had to listen to questions about whether or not Matt Harvey should be a major trading chip for the team due to the holes they need to fill. On the east side of Michigan, some have questioned whether or not the Tigers should get in on a potential Harvey trade. The Mets have to fill an outfield spot once manned by Yoenis Cespedes and the second base spot NLCS MVP Daniel Murphy covered. The Mets also have a weakness at shortstop with Wilmer Flores. The Tigers, on the other hand, have an outstanding outfielder in J.D. Martinez and a quality shortstop in Jose Iglesias. So, would Matt Harvey be worth gaining in exchange for one of these fan favorites and team assets?
Is a starting pitcher, who is valued only for defense, worth more to a team than an offensive juggernaut like J.D. Martinez? It is difficult to imagine what the team would be like without Martinez in the lineup. Baseball fans know that pitchers are valuable, but pitching does not score runs. Tigers fans have already seen what it is like to have a starting pitcher throw an amazing game, but get no run support. Fans saw it repeatedly with David Price and Justin Verlander in 2015. The Tigers lost way too many one-run games last season. If the Tigers do chose to get a rotation pitcher through a trade, rather than through free agency, fans should expect that the team will look significantly different in 2016 than it did in 2015.
Hopefully, Al Avila will not get involved in a trade for Matt Harvey. There are too many good pitchers available in free agency so the core of the team can stay together and rally for a successful season.