Detroit Tigers: Two Pieces Away from Contention?


Sep 22, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher

Hisashi Iwakuma

(18) delivers a pitch in first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers look to be going all-in once again in 2016 with more controlled spending and younger talent waiting in the wings. Since they have added Francisco Rodriguez, Cameron Maybin, and Jordan Zimmermann are they two pieces away from contention?

The Tigers endured a number of key injuries in 2015 from Justin Verlander to Anibal Sanchez to Victor Martinez. Injuries, paired with disappointments from this risks the Tigers took (see Shane Greene, Alfredo Simon, and Tom Gorzelanny), led to the dumpster fire that was the Tigers’ 2015 season.

If Tigers’ players live up to paper expectations, they would have been a mediocre team. Now, they are only missing a legitimate starter and bullpen arm away from contending on paper.

The Winter Meetings could yield trades, but the most likely source of arms come from the free agent market. The Tigers could sign a true fifth starter like Doug Fister or Chris Young, or they could go bigger by signing Hisashi Iwakuma or Ian Kennedy.

A number of relievers are also still on the market. They are highlighted by Joakim Soria and Darren O’Day, but Ryan Madson, Jason Motte, Tyler Clippard, Chad Qualls, Fernando Rodney, and Edward Mujica are also viable arms to help late in games.

After the dust settled from the non-tender deadline, even more arms are on the market. Steve Cishek, Mike Minor, Greg Holland, Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner emerged as possible relief pitchers. 

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Games are not played on paper, but the Tigers’ lineup is strong enough to produce at a rate to win if their pitching can keep them in games. If the Tigers sign another starter, they could either try to convert or leave Kyle Lobstein, Shane Greene, Matt Boyd, Michael Fulmer, and Kyle Ryan as reserve starters in case of injury.