According to a tweet from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Detroit Tigers are eyeing the free agent markets for outfielders and relievers. Rosenthal also tweeted that the potential players are “Complementary pieces, most likely.”
Detroit still has somewhat of a need in left field, and depth never hurt anyone, so the reported interest in more additions makes sense. Anthony Gose is the current starter in left. An upgrade, or a platoon partner at the very least, would certainly help the Tigers.
While the current crop of free agent outfielders is somewhat limited, there are potentially useful players to be found. If players like Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton are deemed too expensive, the remaining options are mostly platoon performers. Still, there is definite value in platoon bats. They provide excellent pinch-hitting options and tend to be much cheaper than star players.
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In terms of relievers, it’s hard to see Detroit handing out a contract similar to the one Mark Lowe received. That being said, the group of free agent relievers is much deeper compared to the shallow free agent outfield market.
A 31-year-old right-hander, LeCure has pitched to a 3.33 ERA from 2011 to 2015 in the Cincinnati bullpen. During that span, the veteran has struck out 263 batters in 272.2 innings pitched. For his career, he’s held lefties to a .206 batting average.
Morales is coming off a stellar season with the Kansas City Royals, posting a 3.18 ERA (3.52 FIP) in 62.1 innings pitched. The left-handed pitcher’s 0.7 WAR in 2015 won’t jump off the page, but only four Detroit relievers had a higher WAR last season. The former Royal has also logged 47 starts in his nine-year career, meaning he could add extra value as a swingman.
Perhaps the most established name of the trio, Matt Thornton is just a handful of months removed from an extremely successful stint in the nation’s capital. The former first-round pick compiled a 1.71 ERA in 78 appearances ranging from 2014 to 2015. While Thornton won’t overwhelm with strikeout numbers (just 23 in 41.1 innings pitched last season), he’s effective and gets outs when needed.
All three would be ideal additions to the Detroit bullpen.
The Detroit Tigers bullpen is largely set, but if the last few years have taught us anything, it is that a team can never have enough quality relievers. In addition to the ‘pen, most of the roster is set, but per Rosenthal and colleague Jon Morosi, the team is watching the free agent “outfield and bullpen markets.” Any new addition would push the Tigers closer to that elusive World Series crown.