Do The Tigers Look Within Or Back to Free Agency?

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 18: Alex Wood #40 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on August 18, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 18: Alex Wood #40 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on August 18, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

There are a few free agents & current 40-man roster players that could be effective for the Tigers in 2020.

Springtime weather is in the air in December for residents of Detroit so no better time than to look ahead a bit for when the Tigers report to camp in February. With just 46 days away before spring training, the Tigers could use a few potential pieces to fill the blanks. We will look at who is left in the market that could fill the spots where the Tigers could use the most help in and if any from the farm system could help come when  Spring Training starts.  I wrote about several names a few weeks back and Jonathan Welter had some trade ideas you can find here. 


According to Fangraphs, the projected rotation looks like this.

LHP Matthew Boyd

RHP Jordan Zimmermann

LHP Daniel Norris

RHP Spencer Turnbull

LHP Tyler Alexander

Alexander does have a minor league option left and he was used as a starter and reliever last year in his call up from Toledo. He has a higher K per 9 against lefties of 8.74 and lefties hit just .239 against him. However, his numbers as a starter as batters went through the order the third time through the order, they give pause as a long term solution as a starter.

8IP, 9.00ERA 16H, 8 ER, 2 HR 

So what about the farm system? When speaking to the press during the winter meetings, Al Avila gave an indication that Casey Mize and Matt Manning could pitch in Detroit at some point in 2020.

"“But given the list of names that I’ve got here, if we can add to that, I would say the best-case scenario for everybody — and I think I’ve mentioned that before — is they go to spring training, they get some experience, they go to Toledo, they stay healthy, they stay healthy, they perform well, and at some point, it would be great for them to have them come up and get some experience at that point mid-season.”"

Beau Burrows, Kyle Funkhouser, Anthony Castro and new acquired Dario Agrazal could also make a case for a spot in the rotation. Agrazal’s numbers in Pittsburgh show his low strikeout numbers (73.1IP, 41K, 12.8% K rate) and a high amount of home runs allowed with 15. However, per Statcast, his sinker is above the MLB average (2,235 vs 2,135), and his hard-hit percentage was around 29.8%.  Castro has not pitched above Erie but showed signs of promise. So if they are not ready, then what arms could the Tigers sign?

LHP Alex Wood

RHP Jimmy Nelson

RHP Taijuan Walker    

RHP Felix Hernandez

As suggested per MLB Trade Rumors, Alex Wood and Jimmy Nelson could be one-year signings until the younger arms are ready. I suggested Walker in an earlier article from this month. Now, Felix Hernandez, this might sound ridiculous but per Jon Heyman, he is drawing interest from teams around the league. A minor-league deal does not sound too far fetched to see what is left. His injuries have robbed him of his effectiveness but if the Tigers are not going to sign anyone beyond a year and keep costs down, worth taking a flyer.

Our friends over at the Blog Red Machine discussed his 2019 season and back injuries always linger. Another item to note, Wood has allowed 10% of his balls in play to be barrels in 2019. The league average was 7% so worth noting for Wood’s effectiveness. Still, the Tigers would add some veteran depth with any one of those names.

Outfield Depth

On the various scales that I just made up.

Old Friend Alert:  Austin Jackson

Long Shots: Yasiel Puig

Throwing a name into the darkness: Lonnie Chisenhall

I mentioned Domingo Santana a few weeks back and he is still my favorite as he could play both corner spots and provide power.  Former Tiger Austin Jackson can play all three spots and is familiar with the nuisances of Comerica Park.

Yasiel Puig has been tied to various teams this off-season including the Rangers and White Sox. Puig had a solid 2019 campaign, hitting 24 HR with a wRC+ of 101 and a walk rate of 7.2%.

With Corey Dickerson heading to Miami, Kole Calhoun to Arizona, the outfield market continues to change by the day. Slotting Puig in right with Travis Demeritte having minor league options left could give the Tigers a solid veteran in the outfield if Demeritte isn’t ready.

As far as why I suggested Lonnie Chisenhall? He can play multiple positions and is a lefty bat. However, he sat out most of last year with injuries and as was reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a Pirates Insider mailbag session:

“He was dealing with some “Andrew Luck-type stuff” when it came to getting healthy and even wanting to play baseball.”

With the trend of former Pirates being brought into the fold, it was worth a shot.