Detroit Tigers: Three moves that should be made by spring training

The Detroit Tigers have pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training just under a month from now but several questions are left to answer.

The payroll sits around $63 million according to Sportrac, which is give or take $30 million dollars lower than it was last season.  The assumption was that Detroit would spend to at various positions of need, such as second base, first base, left-field, and the starting rotation.

So far, Robbie Grossman and Jose Urena are the free agents Detroit has signed, and today, Jon Morosi reported the Tigers are interested in catcher Jason Castro, who one of our contributors, Kellen Gove wrote up in detail back in October and I wrote up why he would be a good fit because of how Detroit appears to have their payroll being setup.

They address the depth concern in the minors for arms with the signings of Andrew Moore, Robbie Ross, and Erasmo Ramirez but that isn’t the “big name” signings Detroit fans were looking for. So with all this being said, here are the three moves the Detroit Tigers should do before spring training starts.

1. Sign Taijuan Walker or Julio Teheran

Apparently, I am a Taijuan Walker superfan because I have written two articles on the right-hander in the last year. Detroit showed interest in him early on in the winter but it has quieted down since.

There is a lot to like about Walker. In a recent article with FanGraphs’s David Laurilla, Walker said something in the interview that stood out and really lines up with new pitching coach Chris Fetter.

I went to Driveline about a week after the 2019 season ended. I spent a few days there and got assessed — all of the numbers, threw a bullpen — and it was nice to see where I was at with my fastball spin rate, and more. We talked about the numbers, and how to use those numbers to know what I’m looking for.

“That was part of the reason I signed with the Mariners [in February]; they had a lot of that same technology. Woody [Pete Woodworth], the pitching coach there, is smart, and really good.”

(You can find the rest of the article here)

I understand to a degree why the payroll would drop and stay where it is. With the uncertainly of a full season that may even occur and what happened in 2020, that is why Detroit has not gone crazy in this off-season to spend but in this case, with Walker, I believe he is worth more than a one-year deal.

Julio Teheran and Anibal Sanchez threw in front of scouts yesterday in Miami and Detroit did due diligence and had a scout out there.

Plus, Detroit will need at least six to seven starters ready on their 40-man roster. The 2020 season has pitchers throwing significantly fewer innings. We do not know the effects of that yet but it is better to be safe than sorry.

2. Sign C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop

Yes, this is technically two moves but when the Tigers signed both players last season, it was all in one day.  The platoon of Cron and Cabrera sounds good to me. Keep Jeimer Candelario at third, where he ranks as one of the best in the American League. Plus, he still has his Twitter profile in a Tigers uniform. (Yes, I am aware it could mean nothing) He was popular with the fans in his short time and coming back from injury, he could be cost-effective.

Schoop hits well against righties (.261/.295/.459 107HR, 1202B) in his career and while Goodrum may be slated to start at second, Goodrum played a better short and could be used as a utility player again.

3. Sign a catcher

Detroit signed Dustin Garneau back in December to a minor league deal but if Detroit signs Castro, it would provide a solid veteran behind the plate that Hinch is familiar with. Personally, I would not mind the platoon situation of Jake Rogers batting from the right side and Castro from the left. And as Kellen mentioned in his article, anything to improve the -0.9fWAR from behind the plate.

Now the three moves seem pretty obvious but it is January 20th and outside of the Castro rumor, the hot stove for the Tigers has been quiet.  The waiting could be for the market to thin out but Detroit should act with a sense of urgency.

There have been a few times in Tigers history that Detroit waited to sign players like Magglio Ordonez, who signed on February 5, 2005, but this isn’t Detroit waiting to see if someone’s knee is healthy.