Detroit Tigers miss out on yet another infielder on affordable contract

Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays
Boston Red Sox v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

We're just about two weeks away from spring training, and the Detroit Tigers STILL don't have a dedicated third baseman on the roster. It sounds like it'll be another platoon situation, which, as we all know, worked out so well last season.

What irritates myself and many Tigers fans the most is the lack of effort to try to fill the position. A perfect is example is seeing the Blue Jays sign Justin Turner to a very affordable one-year, $13 million contract.

What was stopping the Tigers from doing this? Matt Vierling? Andy Ibanez? Jace Jung, who hasn't played an inning above Double-A? There's really only one reason why the Tigers shouldn't have been in on Justin Turner, and that's his age. He's 39 years old, and played a lot of DH last season. I understand the hesitation there if that's why they didn't pursue him.

I made the case for Turner earlier this month. He wouldn't have been anything super special, but he would have been another solid piece to help the Tigers win games. Yes, he's pushing 40, but he's shown no signs of slowing down offensively.

Here's the thing: Turner was a late bloomer. He didn't start producing at an All-Star level until he was 29. Last season with Boston, he had a 114 wRC+. He's still got at least one, if not 2-3 productive years left in the tank.

And it's not like they had to sign him to anything longer than a one-year deal. All he would have been was a nice stopgap option. If he wasn't good, they could have just DFA'd him and called up Jung. This would have been a very low-risk deal for the team.

Now you may ask, how do you know they didn't pursue him? And the answer to that is simple: I don't. I don't know for sure. The only people that do know are those in the Tigers front office. But let's be honest for a second: based on everything we know and everything Scott Harris has said, do you really think the tried to sign Justin Turner, or any infielder for that matter?

That's all we want here — effort. The AL Central is right there for the taking. Every other team in the division has actively gotten worse. Just one more piece could get the Tigers over the hump and cement them as the frontrunners for the division in 2024, but they don't seem interested in doing that.

The Colt Keith extension was outstanding. That gives the Tigers their presumed second baseman for both the present and future. But you can't ignore the hot corner for the second year in a row. That's roster-building malpractice.

Finally, let's address the elephant in the room. One year, $13 million for Justin Turner is a drop in the bucket. The Tigers projected payroll for 2024 for their 26-man roster is about $105 million according to Spotrac — $10 million less than last season. There's no excuse to keep lowering the payroll — not if you're trying to win baseball games.

Even if you include Miguel Cabrera's $8 million buyout, their payroll is still well below league average. Yes, the free agent pool this year wasn't great, but there's more than one way to add player salaries to the payroll. Take on a contract. It doesn't have to be a $30 million AAV albatross — in fact, please don't do that. But just...try. That's all we want. Show the fanbase that you're trying to compete for the division title in 2024.

Scott Harris finally takes a calculated risk with Colt Keith extension. Scott Harris finally takes a calculated risk with Colt Keith extension. dark. Next