Detroit Tigers: There is renewed purpose in the Motor City

At first, third, or DH, Jeimer Candelario will get a lot of at-bats this season.Spring Training
At first, third, or DH, Jeimer Candelario will get a lot of at-bats this season.Spring Training /
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Detroit Tigers
Tigers general manager Al Avila and manager A.J. Hinch talk during Detroit Tigers spring training on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, at TigerTown in Lakeland, Florida.Tigers2 /

Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila will be “careful”

Pricy free agents were brought in to add a talent infusion. Javier Baez provides a dose of power and defense up the middle which the last few editions of the Tigers sorely lacked. Eduardo Rodriguez brings a 6.0 bWAR ceiling from his days in Boston and a veteran to mix into the Tigers’ young rotation.

The top prospects in the organization are on the precipice of joining the everyday lineup. It just seems, barring an injury, ballyhooed uber prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson will begin the season on the Opening Day roster. The days of service time manipulation and fretting over Super-2 arbitration status are over for now.

The young members of the rotation had their debut seasons of kid-glove handling last year. They can be expected to compete now. It seems unlikely to hear about planned two inning starts this year for Casey  Mize and Tarik Skubal. The reigns are loosened. Matt Manning’s freedom to pitch probably not far behind.

There is no debate the Tigers were aggressive in the pre-lockout phase of the off-season. They dealt for Tucker Barnhart to solidify their catching situation, signed Rodriguez to a 5-year deal, negotiated seriously by most accounts with Carlos Correa and pivoted to a cheaper deal with Baez.

After the lockout, however, the Tigers, on the surface, backed off the gas pedal slightly. With several talented players still up for grabs and sporting a still below league average payroll the Tigers added a rather modest $12M to its ‘22 payroll after the lockout on reliever Andrew Chafin and starting pitcher Michael Pineda.

When asked about his willingness to pursue a starting pitcher via trade to add significant talent and depth to the rotation, Avila spoke about his need to be careful with the Tigers prospect depth. It sounded fairly certain he would not pay the going rate for Oakland hurlers Frankie Montas or Sean Manaea.

Is this a sound direction at this point? Should Detroit look to shed some prospects in order to add talent to the ‘22 Tigers roster? Nobody was mentioning them moving Greene and Torkelson. But are there other players who may motivate Oakland to move one of its top arms?

Avila and the Tigers obviously believe caution is warranted at this point. Montas and Manaea still haven’t moved. Oakland’s price isn’t being met by anyone yet. The Tigers have an improved farm system but they aren’t looking to draw down on what degree of organizational depth they have.

The combination of cutting off major expenditures post-lockout and being highly judicious in dealing off prospects led Avila to declare “we’re done” for the time being. He talked of acting responsibly. Contrasted with…