Detroit Tigers fans can relax. The season ended with a base-running error and a Justin Upton strikeout, capturing the essence of the Tigers in 2016.
Now that the Detroit Tigers are finished for the year, what is next for the team that came so close, but was defeated in the end?
It is safe to say that some personnel changes will occur. But who and when?
The Fate of the Skipper
The fate of Brad Ausmus is still up in the air and no one knows more than the Skipper himself. In an article by Anthony Fenech with the Detroit Free Press, Ausmus was asked about Bruce Rondon‘s possibility of pitching in Detroit in 2017. Ausmus’s response was “You might want to ask whoever’s managing next year.”
In the same article, Fenech shared that Al Avila thinks Ausmus has done a good job in 2016. Fenech believes that Ausmus will be back. Fans can expect to hear the announcement within the next week.
Quick Changes in the Bullpen
There will also be some changes in the bullpen. A handful of pitchers will (hopefully) be gone before the calendar year changes. One of the first to go will be Justin Wilson who has been a thorough disappointment the majority of the year ending the season with a 4.14 ERA. Mark Lowe is still owed $5 million for 2017, but this seems like peanuts compared to the other contracts that the Tigers own. Hopefully, the Tigers will just take a loss and let him go.
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Starting Rotation Difficulties
Many are hoping that a handful of the starters will also quickly disappear. Mike Pelfrey and Anibal Sanchez did more harm than good. But, the Tigers owe Sanchez $16.8 million for 2017 and they owe Pelf $8 million, too. These are the definition of “albatross contracts” and will be extremely challenging for the Tigers to sell off to any bidders at all.
Changes in the Catching Platoon
It is also safe to say that Jarrod Saltalamacchia will not be back with the Tigers in 2017. Even though he was a fan favorite, he did not contribute as much as it seems he did. In his 246 at-bats, he struck out 104 times and had only 42 hits. He had 41 walks and 12 home runs. With a thoroughly disappointing .171 batting average, don’t expect Salty to wear a Tigers’ uni next season.
Other Contracts of Note
Cameron Maybin and Francisco Rodriguez both have team managed opt-out clauses for 2017. Maybin was an asset to the team in 2016, which makes him a safe bet to return to the Tigers for another year. K-Rod’s future with the Tigers is not as certain. Even though he blew that last save against the Kansas City Royals, he did have 44 saves prior to that game. I’d personally like to see both men return for 2017 and if they do, both of their contracts will be affordable for this big-spending team.
There will be plenty of other exchanges during the off-season. As we fans are mourning the end of the season, it is helpful to not be overly surprised when the first transactions occur as soon as Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.