Trading for Devers, signing a pair of free agents could make the holiday season more jolly for Detroit Tigers' fans.
With Christmas just a few days away, it’s time for the Detroit Tigers to get some last-minute shopping (and trading) done before Santa makes his rounds. The holiday season has been slim pickings for Detroit Tigers’ fans thus far with the signings of only starting pitchers Matt Boyd and Michael Lorenzen to point to.
Thankfully, there are still a few moves President of Baseball Operations Scott Harris can make for jolly old St. Nick to put on the slay and deliver to Detroit’s faithful. But what to grab? A third baseman, outfielder, catcher or all three? Here’s a few ideas:
Free Agent Signings
Catcher Gary Sanchez – Despite a less than stellar season with the Minnesota Twins in 2022, Sanchez is still among baseball’s productive catchers. Over the past two seasons, the former Yankees backstop amassed a 2.8 WAR. If that doesn’t sound like much, consider the Tigers primary catcher from last year, Tucker Barnhart, managed 0.9 during the same timeframe.
It’s true, Sanchez is never going to remind anyone of Pudge Rodriguez behind the plate. But if there’s one thing known about returning catcher Jake Rogers, it’s his defense. There’s nothing wrong with using Rogers as a late inning defensive replacement if Sanchez can equal or exceed last year’s production of 16 homers and 61 RBI.
But what about Eric Haase? Harris has already said he wants a right-handed hitting outfielder. Haase, who put up 14 homers and 41 RBI in limited duty last season, could be used as part of a platoon in left field with occasional game at catcher.
Sanchez isn’t an ideal solution. But with Rogers’ health still uncertain, the Tigers simply can’t afford to go into the season without another viable catching option.
Starting Pitcher Michael Wacha – If signing another starter seems like about the last thing the Detroit Tigers should do, hang on just a minute. It will make more sense in a moment.
After back-to-back poor seasons, Wacha rebounded nicely in 2022 for the Boston Red Sox. The right hander posted an 11-2 record, 3.32 ERA and WHIP of 1.115. Wacha made 23 starts and totaled 127 innings. Wacha made $7 million for Boston last season and with the way free agent pitchers are being paid this off-season, the Tigers would likely have to bump his salary up a bit.
Detroit’s rotation would probably be something like Eduardo Rodriguez, Lorenzen, Boyd, Wacha, Joey Wentz or Beau Brieske.
Third baseman Rafael Devers – You’ll notice I didn’t include Matt Manning as one of the Detroit Tigers’ starters. That’s because he would be part of a package to acquire Boston’s star third baseman, who has hit a wall in negotiating a contract extension with the Red Sox.
Devers would solve a host of problems. The Tigers have an enormous hole at third base and in the middle of their lineup. Just 26 years old, Devers has already hit more than 30 home runs twice and added 27 bombs last year.
He also checks the box of Harris’ desire for a left-handed hitting infielder. Devers would no doubt bat third in the Detroit Tigers lineup and instantly make those hitting in front of him better.
The rub against Devers is that he’s a potential free agent after 2023. Considering the deals his contemporaries have been getting, it would probably cost around $350 million to make him forget about free agency and sign an extension.
The cost in terms of assets wouldn’t be cheap either. Figure on Manning, Jackson Jobe, or Wilmer Flores, plus Riley Greene or Spencer Torkelson and another lesser prospect.
Adding Devers is worth the price on both ends, that is if the Detroit Tigers are serious about winning anytime soon.