The Detroit Tigers are probably shopping a shelf or two down from the top. Here are three possible free agents to sign
There were positions of excitement. There were positions of obvious need.
The big weakness that seems to be coming for the Tigers is up the middle, unless some trajectories change next year.
While they have at least one middle infielder in Willi Castro, they lack for a second one, despite fans’ hopes of seeing Isaac Parades there.
Jake Rogers was a disappointment at catcher. Jacoby Jones or Victor Reyes probably aren’t the future at center field, and hot prospect Riley Greene seems bound more for a corner outfield position.
So what’s that leave us? A little less exciting of reality, but maybe a few options still.
Let’s take a look through a few of them.
Ha-Seong Kim would shore up shortstop for the Detroit Tigers for years
Ha-Seong Kim makes sense for the Tigers for a lot of reasons. Financially, the 25-year-old Korean shortstop will come in at way less than what one of the top free agents in the class will earn.
MLB Trade Rumors projects Kim at a five-year, $40 million deal plus an additional $7.65 million in posting fees.
In his offseason outlook for the Tigers, MLBTR’s Connor Byrne suggests that it would make a lot of sense for the Tigers to pursue Kim, and he would allow them several options in configuring the infield.
Looking toward the future, the most likely outcome would be keeping Kim at shortstop and moving Castro to second base, as the Tigers believe Castro can play almost anywhere on the diamond.
Assuming a 2022 arrival at third base for prospect Spencer Torkelson and Jeimer Candelario sticking at first base, where he spent some time last season, and you’ve got a potentially solid infield locked up for several years to come.
Kim is a player pretty much every team should want. Baseball America called him a Top 100 prospect. Kyle Glaser wrote:
Kim is a solid all-around player who projects to stick at shortstop. He is a good athlete with good instincts at the position and has the average arm strength to stay on the left side of the infield. He projects to be an above-average hitter and has enough power to hit 12-15 home runs per year in the majors. Kim is likely to face an adjustment period at the plate when he first arrives in the U.S., but he has the athleticism and twitch to adjust and eventually hit major league velocity. He is a plus runner who adds value on the bases as well.
One advantage for both parties? The Tigers are not going to contend for the playoffs in 2021, so there’s time to allow for Kim to adjust to MLB life and pitching.
There will undoubtedly be a lot of competition, but this is the kind of player a team should be willing to pay a little bit more to, if that’s what it takes, because he’s going to cost much less than trying to fill the need on the free-agent market a year from now. There will be options, but none this young and affordable.