Detroit Tigers fans should be wary about winning the winter
Teams in recent history have shown that winning in the offseason does not always translate to winning on the field–the Detroit Tigers should take notice
I respect when teams try to win and leverage all possible resources to do it. For many years, this was the Detroit Tigers’ mantra. The farm system was used as a tool to acquire MLB talent and ownership was willing to spend big money on long-term contracts to try and achieve a World Series.
There comes a challenge when trying to do this whole ‘go for it’ thing in a short window, though. Simply, the best players to fit a club’s needs are not all available within the ideal window; leaving clubs to settle for less-than-ideal plugs to fill holes, perhaps for longer than they would like. There are countless examples to prove how this philosophy has failed.
The Phillies had their famous ‘stupid money’ offseason coined (no pun intended) by John Middleton heading into the 2019 season in which they’d ultimately land Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, and Jean Segura. The result was an 81-81 season and fourth place in the NL East division–and just one game better than the season prior.
The Padres are another team that has recently gone to every length possible to win. Eric Hosmer, then Manny Machado, then extending Tatis, then Mike Clevinger, then Blake Snell, and on, and on. What has it gotten them? Zero division titles and one playoff appearance. Granted, the NL West is a gauntlet of a division, but the shortened 2020 year was their only winning season in the past decade.
The New York Mets made big splashes in the past with Francisco Lindor and James McCann and Taijuan Walker and Marcus Stroman. The result was a 77-85 record in 2021 and third place in the NL East division.
The Detroit Tigers could evaluate their history, even. It’s astounding the organization was able to make a run as long as they did from 2006-2014 considering the relentless nature at which they attacked trades and free agency. Several division titles, a rotation that fans still drool about, big bats, players littered with individual accolades. No World Series title.
The team has started to bring shades of their old approach back. Not necessarily with the type of players they’ve acquired, but the nature in which they are moving. They traded for Tucker Barnhart swiftly following the World Series and then made the first free-agent splash by landing Eduardo Rodriguez. For much of the rebuild, the club had sat on the sidelines until late; swooping up some leftover veterans out of the bargain bin.
This mini-flurry ahead of an expected lockout has fans excited and eyeing the top free agent of the entire class: Carlos Correa. Adding a talent of that caliber would not only slam the rebuild door shut, but it would also likely engrave the Tigers’ name on the offseason crown, barring something unforeseen.
To be clear, I am not advocating that the Detroit Tigers avoid a Correa contract. What I will say is Correa alone will not put the team into World Series contention–it may not even propel them into the playoff conversation. Likewise, missing out on Correa won’t be the travesty some fans will think it is, either.
Correa is a big-time talent, but he’s 1/26th of the roster. It’s part of a gradual improvement that the Detroit Tigers will need to make over the next 18 months to build that sustained winner the front office continues to preach about. According to Al Avila, a winning ballclub is an objective in 2022. That doesn’t necessarily mean playoffs–and that is okay.