Detroit Tigers: To Pay or Not To Pay
The Detroit Tigers have signed some serious talent this off-season. With Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann now on the roster it seems as though the Tigers may be back in the driver’s seat in the American League Central. But they definitely didn’t come cheap. Every huge contract added to the payroll adds a greater risk of forcing the organization into a corner. Of course, no fan wants to hear this but it is the truth.
The Tigers already had five large contracts on the payroll. Between Anibal Sanchez, Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Ian Kinsler the Tigers are paying $104 million. Not to mention the Tigers are also paying for Prince Fielder, who isn’t even on the roster anymore. They are literally paying a player to be an opponent. With the monster contracts they already have, adding Zimmerman’s 5-year $110 million contract and Upton’s 6-year $132.75 million contract seems a bit excessive. Is it truly the right move to go after players with this much money?
With these contracts in the books it seems highly unlikely that the Tigers would be able to go after the Holy Grail of free agents in 2018 (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Josh Donaldson just to name a few). Not planning for this future off-season seems rather ludicrous to me. The Tigers have almost $150 million guaranteed in 2018 leaving very little room for adding much talent. The “best” part is, the youngest player in those mega-deals will be 32, probably not someone who should be making $22 million. So unless they are willing to take on a Yankee-like payroll and roster, they won’t be able to afford to go after many of these free agents.
I do agree that the Tigers need to have a win-now mentality. The Royals absolutely dominated the AL Central last year, and Tigers fans know that can’t happen again. On paper, I see little downside to the Upton and Zimmerman signing except for flexibility when better and younger talents come along.
Lately the “pay big technique” hasn’t really helped teams all that much. I was shocked that Dave Dombrowski went right back to what he tried, and miserably failed, to do with the Red Sox in 2015. Granted, the talent he got this time is a little bit more stable than he had originally in Boston, but seriously, does anyone learn? Even the Yankees are trying to keep down the payroll this year, who would’ve thought that?
Next: Detroit Tigers Player Profile: Justin Upton
All in all, the Tigers were big winners this off-season. Adding the great talents of Zimmerman and Upton look great for the Tigers and will most definitely reinvigorate the fan base. I foresee great things in the Tiger’s future. I just don’t expect much from signing many more “big name” players in the future.