Detroit Tigers: Trades may be better than free agency for roster upgrades this offseason

Trades may be a better avenue for roster upgrades than free agency for the Detroit Tigers this offseason
Detroit Tigers CEO and Chairman Chris Ilitch talks with players as President of Baseball Operations
Detroit Tigers CEO and Chairman Chris Ilitch talks with players as President of Baseball Operations / Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Tigers are entering a very important offseason. The American League Central was a terrible division in 2023, and is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future.

I mean, the Tigers finished in second place with a 78-84 record. That’s how bad this division is. The White Sox are a dumpster fire, the Royals are stuck in a never-ending rebuild, Cleveland is Cleveland, and the Twins are the only real competitor. With some help, the Tigers can easily take control of this division in 2024.

Unfortunately, the free agent market this offseason is not great. It’s Shohei Ohtani, Matt Chapman, Blake Snell, Josh Hader, and a whole lot of meh. There are still some smaller options the Tigers can take a look at, but if they’re going to make a splash, it’s going to have to be through a trade.

Luckily, the Tigers are in a pretty good position to be able to do something like that. They have a decent prospect pool, and even some pieces on the big league roster that could be dealt.

The most likely scenario in which the Tigers pull off a big trade is if they trade pitching for a bat or two, similar to what they did with the Gregory Soto trade last offseason. This team still needs offense pretty badly, and with said lackluster free agent class, this is going to be their best bet.

One player we’ve been advocating the Tigers bring in for a while is Cardinals’ OF Tyler O’Neill. He’s built like someone who should be able to hit 30 bombs a year with consistency, but he’s only done it once in his career. Some of it has to do with injuries, but he’s also fallen out of favor with management there.

He’s only played 168 games over the last two seasons. Again, injuries have been an issue, but he and manager Oliver Marmol haven’t gotten along from day one. It appears a change of scenery would do him some good.

O’Neill only has a year of team control left, so he wouldn’t be too hard to acquire. The Cardinals desperately need some pitching, and the Tigers have plenty to offer. The Tigers could really use a right-handed power bat. This seems like a very good fit.

It would be a pretty low-risk addition. If he flops, they just let him go after the season. If he flourishes, then perhaps an extension would be in order.

This is just one example. There are plenty of other potential trade candidates the Tigers could go out and get this winter that can help this team become a force offensively.

If the Tigers don’t want to spend, especially in this free agent class, then they’re going to have to make some trades. This team can compete in the AL Central in 2024. They just need some bats.