Detroit Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris held his season-ending press conference last week. He was asked about whether the Tigers would be big spenders this offseason. Here's what he had to say:
"We can spend to complement a core. We can’t spend to build a core. That’s not a viable strategy in this market. We are going to walk the line of being active in free agency and trades to find outside additions that can help us without blocking our young players."- Scott Harris
Now, a key part of this quote is the third sentence. If by "this market," he means this year's free agent class, then he's 100% correct. As we've talked about before, this is is not a strong free agent class. It's Shohei Ohtani, a few interesting international free agents coming from overseas, and not much else after that.
But if he's talking about spending to build a core in general? He could not be more wrong. You want proof? Look at the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies — two teams that advanced to the league championship series this week, and both spent a bunch of money to build their respective cores.
For the Phillies, it's obvious. Just look up and down their lineup — Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, JT Realmuto, Trea Turner — every single of those guys was a marquee free agent signing, and have all contributed this postseason.
For tha Rangers, it's more of mix a of free agents and homegrown talent, but the bulk of the core is still free agents. Marcus Semien and Corey Seager — their two best players — were both signed to massive contracts two years ago. Their pitching staff is largely made up of free agent signings — Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney are examples of that.
Yes, young players like Jonah Heim, and rookies Josh Jung and Evan Carter are also huge reasons for their success. Adolis Garcia was DFA'd and fixed himself a few weeks later, and is now an All-Star. Still, they knew their weakness was up the middle, and they went out and addressed it in free agency by getting the best players available.
The Tigers did this exact same thing when Dave Dombrowski was here. Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Pudge, Magglio Ordonez, and many others were signed as free agents. Yes, they had developed guys in house like Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson, Rick Porcello, and others, but especially toward the end, the Tigers were spending a lot of whole to build a winning team.
So, contrary to what Scott Harris said, you *can* spend money to build a core. Maybe not in this free agent market, but in general, you most certainly can.
Additionally, the Tigers have a core that is forming. Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson, Kerry Carpenter, Tarik Skubal, Jason Foley, and Alex Lange are some of the pieces the Tigers already have in house. Harris said you can spend to supplement a core. We'd like to see him put his money where his mouth is.
With how weak the AL Central is, there's no reason the Tigers can't compete to win the division in 2024. So, it's time spend to supplement this core, Mr. Harris.