These final four teams in the MLB postseason have some players who could benefit the Detroit Tigers in 2021.
We as Detroit Tigers fans watched the final four teams in the respected League Champion Series take a few people by surprise. The Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves were each eliminated in Game 7s, leaving the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers, two teams at the front-end of player development, as the last ones standing in 2021. I like the Dodgers to take the series in six games – mainly because they’ve been so good for so long, and had it not been for some trash cans making unexpected noises a few years back, the Dodgers would have a World Series ring.
For this exercise, let’s take a look at one player from each team who makes sense as a potential addition for the Detroit Tigers via free agency this offseason. We’ll include how much they made last year, plus “Tigers Terms,” to indicate what it would likely take to bring that player to Detroit.
Houston Astros: Michael Brantley, OF
If you follow this site, you may have already seen the talk about George Springer coming to Detroit. I’m not convinced the Tigers believe they’re in a position to give out hundred-million-dollar contracts, but of course, it would hard to complain if they did.
It’s easy to see Brantley, 34, getting a one-year deal from a contender. Considering the Tigers have a remarkably similar player ascending the minor league ranks in Riley Greene, perhaps a two-year agreement in Detroit gives Brantley a chance to serve as a mentor to one of Detroit’s most essential pieces in the future. More than his mentorship, Brantley had made the American League All-Star team for three straight seasons before the abbreviated 2020 season, so he’ll likely have a couple more years left in the tank. I’d love if Greene’s career resembled Brantley’s once the dust settles.
Last year: $16M
Detroit Tigers Terms: 2 Years, $25M
Atlanta Braves: Mark Melancon/Shane Greene, RP
The old saying was, “You can never have enough pitching.” When you’re a rebuilding team, the expression should read, “You can never have enough relief pitching.” Every single year, we see relief pitching become the hottest commodity at the MLB Trade Deadline. Great teams understand this, and it’s why teams with high-end bullpens almost always go the farthest in the playoffs. Heck, I think it makes sense to get both Melancon and Greene, but either one would instantly slot in as Tigers closer. Melancon, 37, has been low-key outstanding for over a decade, while Greene was the best thing Detroit had going during the first-half in 2019. A reunion for Greene makes all the sense in the world, given how he fits team needs and how many teams would jockey for his services in the event the Tigers would be willing to move him at mid-summer.
Last year – Melancon, $19M – Greene: $6.25M
Detroit Tigers Terms:
Melancon: 2 Years, $17M
Greene: 2 Years, $14M
Los Angeles Dodgers: Joc Pederson, OF
Power has become the single-biggest offensive commodity in baseball. Last year, the Tigers acknowledged their need to find it by signing Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron to one-year deals. This year, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a talent whose stock is down as much as Pederson. The 28-year old hit just .190 in the shortened 2020 campaign with seven homers, which would’ve ranked third among Tigers hitters. With Cron and Schoop hitting free agency, Pederson, whose averaged 28 home runs per season heading into 2020, would get the playing time that could lead to a monster season.
Last year: $7.75M
Detroit Tigers Terms: 1 Year, $6.5M
Tampa Bay Rays: Mike Zunino, C
Zunino, set to turn 30 during 2021 Spring Training, handles pitchers as good as any catcher in baseball. Given the stamp of approval by the Rays, who identify talent as well as any team in the game, Zunino could keep young pitching prospects such as Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and eventually Matt Manning on the straight and narrow. Zunino has hit just .161 in two seasons in Tampa but averaged 18 home runs during the five previous seasons with Seattle. If Austin Romine decides to sign elsewhere for 2021, you could do much worse than Zunino.
Last year: $4.5M
Detroit Tigers Terms: 2 Years, $10M
Which of the players on this list do you want in Detroit next season? Leave a comment below and find Dan on Twitter at @ThatDanHasty!