Detroit Tigers Free Agents: 5 ways to spend $50 million

Tigers general manager Al Avila answers questions during a press conference at Comerica Park.
Tigers general manager Al Avila answers questions during a press conference at Comerica Park. /
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Detroit Tigers Free Agency Option 2: Marcus Semien and Eduardo Rodriguez

Detroit Tigers
Marcus Semien takes a practice swing in the on deck circle. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /

Okay, so this proposal costs the same as the last one, but it lacks the pizazz of the shortstop/center field combo. Marcus Semien’s name doesn’t seem to come up much when people discuss potentially huge free agent deals, but it really should. He hits for power, he has speed, and he’s a terrific defender.

Semien just set the record for most home runs in a season by a second baseman, and he joins Alex Rodriguez as the only middle infielders in MLB history with at least 44 home runs and 15 stolen bases in the same season. He grades out very well on defense at second base, and he graded out as an above-average defender at shortstop as recently as 2019. He’s had an MVP-level 2021 season, and he’s been a top-five player by WAR over the last four seasons. He deserves to get paid.

Semien doesn’t get talked about enough, but it seems Eduardo Rodriguez doesn’t get talked about at all. Boston originally acquired the talented southpaw from Baltimore in a 2014 deadline deal for Andrew Miller (reportedly sniping the Tigers in the process), and he spent the next few years as solid-average starting pitcher. Things started coming together for him in 2018, and in 2019 he finished 6th in the AL Cy Young vote after going 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA in 203.1 innings.

Rodriguez missed all of 2020 with a scary heart issue, but he has come back strong this year, though his surface stats might not show it. Rodriguez’s ERA has ballooned to 4.93 this season, but his strikeoute rate has risen, his walk rate has dropped, and his home run rate has remained stable. He has been hurt by Boston’s iffy team defense and some pretty rotten batted ball luck (.365 BABIP), but his expected ERA of 3.64 is right in line with his 2019 numbers, and his 3.35 FIP is the best of his career. Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t an ace, but he’s still just 28, and he has good stuff and a solid track record.