The Winter Meetings begin this week and Al Avila holds the Detroit Tigers future in his hands.
The 2017 Tigers will not look much different than they did in 2016.
Same Faces from 2016
With the $6 million increase in the luxury tax threshold, the Tigers do not need to make many moves. The team already tendered contracts to a handful of players who are eligible for arbitration. These important and valuable players will occupy $12 million of the Tigers salary: Jose Iglesias, Nick Castellanos, Justin Wilson, Andrew Romine, Alex Wilson, and Bruce Rondon.
If the Tigers did not want these men on the team, they could have non-tendered them. Bryan Holaday was non-tendered by the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians did the same to pitcher Jeff Manship.
The Tigers could trade their tendered players, too. Currently, the only one who is being courted by a few teams is left-handed pitcher Justin Wilson. Since the Tigers want value for their trades, teams will have to cough up someone worthwhile to get their hands on Wilson. It is safe to say that both Wilson pitchers will be Tigers in 2017 as well as the rest of the men who were tendered contracts earlier in the week.
Not Much Changing in Pitching Rotation
When it comes to the Tigers pitching staff, there won’t be many changes. The three young pitchers, Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd, and Daniel Norris will stay where they are. Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Verlander will fill out the rest of the starting pitchers. Despite reports that Verlander purchased a home in California, it is unlikely that he will be pitching for anyone other than the Tigers.
Predicting the Infield
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The infield will continue to look the same. The entire infield. That includes Cabrera and Ian Kinsler. Cabrera is just too expensive for other teams. Many of the best players in the league are at second base, so the need for Ian Kinsler on other teams is limited. He and Iglesias will continue to be the best infield duo in the league for another season.
The outfield will be the only spot that looks different. It seems that the Tigers have one goal, to get rid of J.D. Martinez. And sadly, they will. But, the teams that are interested in him is dwindling. The problem for Martinez is that there are other good outfielders available, too. And, whoever signs him, might not get to keep him as becomes a free agent in 2018. But, if the Tigers do not trade him, they won’t get anything for him either – which is why the time is now to trade him away.
The Tigers do have a few too many pitchers and it would be in Avila’s best interest to trade away Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey. It also appears that Francisco Rodriguez could be traded, too. Other than these three, the rest of the bullpen will not change as Shane Greene, Rondon, Blaine Hardy, Kyle Ryan, and the Wilsons will continue to fill the late innings. Expect to see Mark Lowe for another season, too.