Riley Greene Replacement Option 2: Free Agents
This is the second most likely route the Detroit Tigers choose, though the probability of them signing a free agent is likely about 5% at this point. Part of that is a lack of appealing options, and part of it is where they are on the win curve. The Detroit Tigers aren’t a championship caliber team, and they should understand that, so they don’t need to make any rash decisions to add a few wins.
The biggest name left on the free agent market is Michael Conforto, a 29-year-old left-handed corner outfielder. Conforto wasn’t very good in 2021, but from 2017-2020 he was one of the most consistent and productive outfielders in baseball.
His agent Scott Boras recently announced that Conforto had injured his shoulder during a workout in January and wanted to wait until he healed before resuming contract negotiations. That feels a little dubious, but there are already a number of things working against a possible marriage of Conforto and the Tigers.
The main issue is the cost. Conforto is likely seeking a deal in line with what contemporaries like Nick Castellanos (5 years, $100 million) and Kyle Schwarber (4 years, $79 million) received. Conforto is not an option for center field, he has a qualifying offer attached, and there are some other issues that could cause a minor roadblock. Perhaps if he were willing to sign a one-year deal the Tigers would bite.
The rest of the free agent outfield options are rough. Brett Gardner hasn’t officially signed anywhere or retired, but he’s 38 now and doesn’t appear to have much left. Brian Goodwin walks a bit, but doesn’t do much else. Danny Santana is two years removed from a 20-20 season, but hit just .170 over the last two seasons. Adam Eaton lives in Michigan, but his offense has fallen off a cliff the last two years.
If the Detroit Tigers really want to upgrade the outfield, they might have to make a trade.