Detroit Tigers leader Scott Harris failed to sign a free agent during the Winter Meetings.
“I want you to go to the window, open it, stick your head and yell: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.’ ” Howard Beale, Network (1976)
Detroit Tigers fans should follow Howard Beale's advice. Yes, it’s very early in President of Baseball Operations Scott Harris’ tenure as the Tigers leader. But MLB’s recently concluded Winter Meetings turned into a nothingburger for Detroit’s faithful.
And don’t talk to me about the signing of Matthew Boyd before the Winter Meetings, Rule 5 pick Mason Englert or the trade of Joe Jimenez. The addition of Boyd and Englert will have marginal impact if any at all in 2023, and the loss of Jimenez will hurt.
Instead of significant additions, fans got to watch as players who could improve the Tigers immediate fortunes got plucked off the racks. Aaron Judge stays with the Yankees. Trea Turner and Taijuan Walker to the Phillies, Cody Bellinger and Jameson Taillon sign with the Cubs. The Cardinals ink Wilson Contreras while the Giants sign outfielder Mitch Haniger and the Guardians get Josh Bell.
What did the Tigers get? Zip, zero, nada.
Unless you count Harris’ word salad about letting the young guys play and develop. Then there was chatter about how hard he and his staff were working to get something done (okay, a minor kudo for getting a hitting prospect that might help in the future).
Oh, and, hey, Harris even added the possibility of having an asymmetrical fence line at Comerica Park. How many wins above replacement does an asymmetrical fence count for?
Sorry, if I’m sounding crabby and downright cynical. After six straight losing seasons, I’m mad as hell, and I really don’t want to take anymore.
To be fair, Harris inherited a lousy roster and a minor league system that’s short on impact players. No current or former general manager was going to turn this collection of lemons into lemonade in one off-season.
But, Scott, dude, you’ve got to start somewhere. And by somewhere, I mean the 2023 Tigers.
True, the Tigers never had a realistic chance to get Judge, Turner, Contreras, Xander Bogaerts, or Dansby Swanson, I get it. Still, there were mid-range free agents like Haniger, Jace Peterson and Tyler Anderson that could’ve provided immediate help.
If nothing else, making a few such signings would have been a show of good faith by the Detroit Tigers. Chris Ilitch, via Harris, could’ve made it known he intends to improve the product on the field now and in the future.
After all, the Tigers best prospects – Jackson Jobe, Colt Keith, Jace Jung and Wilmer Flores are all at least a full season away from Detroit, if not longer. None of the mid-tier signings would’ve hindered their development and could be dealt for additional assets when one of the prospects is ready for primetime.
Opening Day is still months away and a lot could be done between now and then. But the Harris Administration if off to a very slow start, to the point of looking a lot like the Al Avila regime. He’d be wise not to squander the fans’ goodwill by being overly cautious.