With the GM Meetings taking place this week, we are officially in offseason mode. With that, comes free agent predictions. The Detroit Tigers aren't expected to be active on the free agent market, but that hasn't stopped one outlet from having Tigers being in on several free agents this winter.
MLB Trade Rumors recently released its top 50 free agents with predictions on where they will sign, done by writers Anthony Franco, Tim Dierkes, Darragh McDonald, and Steve Adams. At least one of those writers have the Tigers potentially signing seven free agents — five pitchers and two position players. That would be a lot, even for a team like the Mets or Dodgers, who ordinarily have high payrolls. But for the Tigers? That would be incredibly shocking, though you certainly wouldn't hear an complaining from us.
The Tigers have one free agent on the list in Eduardo Rodriguez, which is not surprising. He is ranked No. 11, and MLBTR has him signing with either the Reds or the White Sox on a four-year, $82 million deal.
The Reds would make sense, as they desparately need starting pitching. The question for them is, will they open up the pocketbooks? Ownership has a long history of being cheap in Cincy. They have a ton of young talent and just missed out on the playoffs in 2023. Getting a pitcher like E-rod would be huge for them.
As for the White Sox, they are likely entering another rebuild, so I don't see them signing any big free agents. It would be a huge surprise if they landed E-rod.
But enough messing around. Let's get to what you clicked on this article for. Who does MLB Trade Rumors think the Tigers will go after this offseason?
Gray would be an outstanding addition to the Tigers rotation. He would add a veteran presence to a young rotation. And at a projected four years and $90 million, he wouldn't break the bank at all.
In 2023 with the Twins, he had a 2.79 ERA and a 5.3 fWAR in 184 innings pitched. He was just named an AL Cy Young award finalist for his efforts. That may drive his price up a bit, but that shouln't scare the Tigers off since they have plenty of payroll room to work with.
The only concern is that he is going into age-34 season, and a four-year deal would ink him until he's 38. Still, he's really only had two bad years in his career, and he's not the kind of pitcher that ages poorly anyway. He doesn't throw very hard and relies on spin and finesse. Should the Tigers sign him, they should get at least two good years out of him.
Flaherty was mentioned by fellow Co-Expert Tyler Kotila as someone the Tigers should pursue this offseason. He should be a low-cost option to fill a hole in the rotation. MLBTR has him signing a three-year, $40 million deal, but I think he could be had on a one-year prove-it deal.
Flaherty is a former top prospect for the Cardinals. His first few years were very promising, but injuries and command issues have plagued him ever since. The Cards shipped him to Baltimore at the trade deadline this past year, where his struggles continued and he was moved to the bullpen.
Personally, I wouldn't touch Flaherty with a 10-foot pole. Last season was the first time he had pitched over 100 innings since 2019. It just seems like he's cooked.
Speaking of pitchers that are cooked, Severino has had injury after injury over the last few years. He's pitched over 100 innings just once since 2018. He's been oustanding in the past, but injuries are a massive concern.
He also had a massive 2.32 HR/9 last season. That's also a huge concern. He had an ERA of 6.65 and a -0.6 fWAR. This guy is done.
Even at one-year and $14 million, Sev is a big no from me.
The final starting pitcher on the list, Mahle has been solid when healthy. The last two words of that sentence are key here.
Shoulder issues and Tommy John surgery in May have wrecked Mahle's career the past couple of years. He probably won't be ready for Opening Day, and it may be until the All-Star break until he's finally ready to pitch.
MLBTR has a projected two year, $20 million deal, which makes sense given he'll miss a good part of his first season, but if I were a team looking to sign him, I'd want a club option after that first year. If he has any sort of setback, I don't want to have him on the books for another year after not playing in his first year.
The only reliever on the list, Hicks has had an up-and-down career. He has a fastball that consistenty goes over 100 mph on the radar gun, but has trouble throwing strikes. He's always been a high strikeout, high-walk guy.
He has spent the majority of his career with the Cardinals, but was traded to the Blue Jays at the trade deadline last year. You could argue he had a career season in 2023 with a 3.29 ERA, a 11.1 K/9 and a career high 1.1 fWAR.
His baseball savant page is a thing of beauty. Red circles galore. He'd be a fun project for Chris Fetter, for sure.
But would the Tigers shell a four-year, $40 million contract at a boom-or-bust reliever? That's hard to say. The Tigers do need another leverage reliever or two, but they already have a similar profile in Alex Lange, though Lange doesn't have the velocity Hicks possesses.
I wouldn't hate this move, especially since he's only 27, but relievers, especially ones like Hicks, are highly volatile. Personally, I'd be shocked if the Tigers went after him.