Ignore the score from last night in Cleveland, the Detroit Tigers are fun to watch.
Friday, May the 7th, was a cold spring night departing Comerica Park. The Detroit Tigers dropped yet another game to the Minnesota Twins where the bullpen gave up 5 runs in 4 innings, par for the course on a team that was heading nowhere fast.
Fan anger was boiling over everywhere, the traditional print media, the various sites dedicated to covering the Tigers locally, 97.1 sports radio, you name it and the Tigers were front and center for all the wrong reasons. There seemed to be no hope. The lack of offseason effort towards fielding a respectable team was taking center stage in the worst way.
Even what I have called the 10-year rebuild to mediocrity seemed to be in danger. Fast Forward and the Tigers are now 34-44, having won 25 of their 45 games since the low point of the season. The team has some exciting players. The growth of the pitching Big 3 of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning has been on full display. Akil Baddoo has bounced back after a Hollywood start and the predictable crash in a way that is truly impressive and I was certainly not expecting. You can feel the losing culture leaving as AJ Hinch steers the ship. Players are being held accountable, shuffled in and out to see who can help now, but more importantly do any of them have a place for 2022 and beyond.
Call this my look towards 2022 version1.0, which will continue to evolve as we watch the season play out and see who is in, who is out, and how the 2022 roster could be pieced together. The Tigers payroll currently stands at 23rd, just shy of 87 million dollars according to Sportrac, and while expecting a substantial increase, I am trying to construct the roster within what I believe could be a real bump for the 2022 campaign knowing more work will need to be done in 2023 and the hopefully topped off in 2024 with the 30 million dollars freed up from Miguel Cabrera’s contract expiring.
First, let’s take a look at the current players on the 40-man roster who are arbitration-eligible: