MLB Trade Rumors has the Detroit Tigers bargain-hunting this winter
It is still unknown what exactly the Detroit Tigers plan to do this offseason. At his introductory press conference on Sept. 20, new president of baseball operations Scott Harris said that he saw this winter as “an opportunity to get better,” which is pretty vague, but he did also say that he “doesn’t believe in any set plans” in regard to a rebuild, so there’s that.
MLB Trade Rumors recently published its offseason outlook for the Detroit Tigers, and it doesn’t think they will do much this winter. In fact, it thinks the Tigers will be shopping from the bargain bin once again.
Early on in the piece, writer Darragh McDonald notes that the Tigers only have just shy of $85 million in payroll committed to next season before arbitration. But if you add up its arbitration projections, that brings that number to $113.45 million. It probably won’t get to that number, since several of the players up for arbitration will likely be non-tendered, so that number will probably be somewhere between $105-110 million.
Depending on where you look, the Detroit Tigers’ 2022 payroll was anywhere from $130-135 million. So that would, in theory, leave them with about $25-30 million to spend this offseaon, assuming that Ilitch doesn’t want to add anymore to the payroll after last offseason flopped. That’s not a lot, but it’s more than offseasons prior to 2021.
The main crux of the article is that is may be wise if Harris waits on spending a lot for this offseason because he literally just started in his new role. McDonald argues that he needs time to get the know the organization’s strength and weaknesses, which is a fair assessment.
This is not going to be a one-offseason fix. No GM or president of baseball ops is going to get this roster in playoff shape in less than a year’s time. With Miguel Cabrera’s contract coming off the books next offseason, that’ll open up $32 million more in payroll. Next offseason may be the time strike.
I know that may be hard for Detroit Tigers fans to hear after years of not spending in free agency and the disaster that was the 2022 season, but Scott Harris may need a year to properly evalutate this team’s biggest needs.
As for free agents, McDonald doesn’t mention any big names, as to be expected. At catcher, he mentions Roberto Perez and Austin Hedges as potential one-year stopgaps. At third base, he mentions utility guys like Aledmys Diaz, Jace Peterson, and former Giant Donovan Solano as potential suitors if the Tigers non-tender Jeimer Candelario.
The outfield seems like the most logical place for the Tigers to spend some cash, but MLBTR doesn’t see them going that route either. Names McDonald mentions include Ben Gamel, Tyler Naquin, and Corey Dickerson.
As for starting pitchers, McDonald once again doesn’t see the Detroit Tigers opening up the wallets for any big names. Guys like Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander were almost a given, but even someone like Carlos Rodon may be out of reach for them. He has the Tigers going for some one-year options a la Michael Pineda. Names here include Dylan Bundy, Johnny Cueto, and Zach Davies.
I know it’ll be hard to stomach another offseason of shopping for deals. Believe me, even I will have trouble dealing with it. But it may be what’s best for the Detroit Tigers going forward.