Detroit Tigers: 5 Steps to an Ideal Winter Meetings
The Detroit Tigers will have a lot of work to do if their goal of reaching the playoffs remains intact for 2021
The Detroit Pistons made waves along the Detroit sports landscape for their flurry of moves during the NBA draft and subsequent free agency; now the Detroit Tigers and GM Al Avila hope to do some of the same during the winter meetings and leading up to the 2021 season. Although the club fell out of the playoff race all the way down to the third pick in next year’s draft, there are still significant holes that need to be addressed to keep their playoff aspirations alive.
It may be impossible to rival the level of activity the Pistons displayed, but the Detroit Tigers could still make some splashes this winter. The Winter Meetings are an annual event in December where the majority of the activity in baseball happens. For the Tigers, some moves worked out while others flopped. Robbie Ray for Shane Greene, Eugenio Suarez for Alfredo Simon, and Chad Green and Luis Cessa for Justin Wilson are a few of the moves that have been made.
Below is a blueprint for the ideal winter meetings. I tried my best to keep things within perspective–for example, the Detroit Tigers are not likely to sign JT Realmuto this winter. With that in mind, the odds are this won’t be a World Series contender by the time the meetings are over. It should, however, at least make the Tigers competitive for a playoff spot next summer.
Step 1: The Detroit Tigers Sign a Starting Pitcher
The Detroit Tigers will need at least one arm to help them get through the season. It remains to be seen exactly how many games will be played in 2021, but beyond Matthew Boyd and Spencer Turnbull, it would be difficult to count on any of their young pitchers for anything beyond about 150 innings.
The Tigers are likely to pencil in Mize and Skubal into the other two spots, with Manning and Faedo to likely make their own appearances during the season. But with injuries and for the spirit of competition, having a veteran arm is necessary. The Tigers have been connected to Taijuan Walker recently. Other possibilities include JA Happ, Garrett Richards, and Martin Perez.
Step 2: The Detroit Tigers Acquire a Big Outfield Bat
The outfield was an atrocity last season, with Christin Stewart doing little to justify an everyday role, JaCoby Jones has continued to make his freak injuries a regularity, and Daz Cameron, while he showed flashes, may not be ready for an everyday role quite yet.
Beyond the positioning, though, the lineup desperately needs some power. We were able to see the possibilities of such power for a brief time in 2020 when CJ Cron was in the lineup. Power has the ability to change the complexion of a game with one swing–and more of those type of inter game pivots will be necessary to win games.
The number of strong outfielders in this free-agent class is slim. Michael Brantley, Jackie Bradley Jr., and George Springer would make sense. Steven Souza Jr. is three years removed from a 30-home run season but remains a relatively young option. Rumors are suggesting a Cubs firesale, making a Schwarber trade also intriguing.
Step 3: The Detroit Tigers Address Shortstop
Manager AJ Hinch noted he intends to leverage the versatility of Niko Goodrum next season, making the everyday shortstop position vacant for the time being. Willi Castro has shown some inconsistencies defensively and might be a better fit ultimately at second base.
With the young pitching that exists in the rotation currently, it would be shrewd to get a defensive savant at one of the more important defensive spots. Andrelton Simmons would fit the bill.
Step 4: The Detroit Tigers Get Protection for First Base
I have written at length about the Detroit Tigers’ need for a first baseman for a litany of reasons; most importantly keeping Miguel Cabrera healthy and not forcing the issue with top pick Spencer Torkelson. Jeimer Candelario plays an above-average third base, so keeping him on the other side of the diamond is a logical move.
I was a cardholding member of the official re-sign CJ Cron club at the start of 2020, but depending on the health of his knee, that may or may not be a fit. Other options include Eric Thames and Mitch Moreland.
Step 5: The Detroit Tigers Make a Bold Move
Admittedly, I am unsure of specifically what this means, but it has been quite some time since the Detroit Tigers made a bold signing or trade. Many have been critical of the lack of creativity–if the goal remains playoffs, taking a risk will be part of the formula.
A prospect-for-prospect trade, acquiring international slot money, taking on a bad contract to increase an overall trade return, or spending big are just a few of the ways that would give fans some signals of effort and urgency.
There are undoubtedly other needs to address–this list is not comprehensive by any stretch. But if the Detroit Tigers can address all of these needs over the next month, it will do a lot for instilling confidence in a fanbase that already contains optimism after the recent coaching staff hires.