The Detroit Tigers are in rebuilding mode, but a slow free agent market could give the Tigers a chance to add a veteran like Neil Walker on the cheap.
The Detroit Tigers, like most of the league, have had a quiet offseason. A trade of star second baseman Ian Kinsler highlighted an offseason that has only seen the team sign two players to big league contracts: outfielder Leonys Martin and starting pitcher Mike Fiers.
It is pretty clear that the team has their vision set for the future. They are not making moves that will help them in the near future, instead choosing to stock up on young minor league talent via trades and the draft. This trend, often called ‘tanking’, is stirring quite a controversy among the MLBPA and the remaining free agents.
Regardless, the Tigers seem primed to head into 2018 with a lot of inexperienced players filling out their 25-man roster. One position that the Tigers seem particularly thin at is second base, following Kinsler’s departure.
25-year-old Dixon Machado is penciled in as the opening day starter at second base. He hit .259/.302/.319 with a 64 wRC+ and a -0.5 fWAR in 73 games last season. 27 of those games were at second base, the third most on the team behind Kinsler and Andrew Romine, who has since signed with the Mariners.
While Machado is a capable defender and young enough to still develop, his profile has long indicated a career as a utility infielder as opposed to an everyday player. Rebuilding teams often have to make sacrifices to save money. However, the Tigers should consider adding a veteran second baseman so that Machado can instead fill a utility role.
Enter free agent Neil Walker.