As rumors have swirled about the Detroit Tigers and the center field position, several mediocre veterans names were mentioned.
Could this be due to the trend of mediocre middle-aged veterans beginning to have difficulty getting signed during free agency?
ESPN writer David Schoenfield wrote a blog post titled “The vanishing role of the mediocre veteran” where he looked at the “glut of first basemen/DHs/corner outfielders.” His claim is that these players, who usually make about $8 million annually, are on their way out.
Over-Priced for the Value
He sited examples like
with the St. Louis Cardinals and even men who are still on the free agency list like
. These are players who can still add to the team. But, they are a bit over-priced for what they really bring.
In 2016, the Tigers had a handful of these mediocre veterans. Think of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Pelfrey, and Casey McGehee. Even though the Tigers paid Salty the league minimum, he made a little under $8 million from his previous contract with the Miami Marlins. Pelfrey made $8 million in 2016 and will make the same in 2017. McGehee signed with a minor league contract in 2016. While these players contributed in some way, it was minimal.
Looking at Young, Internal Candidates Instead of Veterans
Now, consider the players that the Tigers were rumored to be investigating to fill the center field role. According to Steve Adams with MLB Trade Rumors, a few of the names that popped up were Austin Jackson, Michael Bourne, Coco Crisp, and Peter Bourjos. While none of these men are poor players, they just aren’t that great anymore. They’ve been injured, their batting stats have dropped, and they just aren’t worth the money.
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This action fits with Schoenfield’s theory. According to the latest news from the Detroit Free Press on the Tigers’ opening at center field, it looks like Anthony Gose will get a chance. It is also safe to say that Tyler Collins and JaCoby Jones will get some center field time during spring training. Three minor league outfielders – Jason Krizan, Juan Perez and Alex Presley – have been invited to spring training and might also get to show their skills in Lakeland.
Trying to the Find the Next Future All-Star
Schoenfield said: “While $8 million seems like spare change in today’s game, it’s still $8 million. Instead of signing Moss, teams would prefer to find … well, the next Brandon Moss.” Hopefully, the Tigers have had enough of looking for has-been players. They should be looking for the next Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Michael Fulmer.
Have the Tigers learned a lesson with all of the ho-hum players that they have signed over the years? If Gose is getting another chance at CF, those middle-aged players may not be wanted.