For years, the Tigers have been terrible in the international free agent market, both at the amateur level and at the pro level. The only time in recent memory when they were in on the top international talent was in 2011-12, when Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darish were on the free agaent market. Though the Tigers were not able to land either player, they were heavily interested in both. We miss you, Dave Dombrowski.
This offseason, however, they have an opportunity. There are several big name free agents being posted from overseas. Japan's Yoshinobu Yamamoto and South Korea's Jung Hoo Lee are the big headliners. Yamamoto has already garnered interesting from many big league clubs, and for good reason.
The 25-year-old has been posting insane numbers in the Pacific League. He's had an ERA under 2 each of the last three seasons. He doesn't allow hard contact and doesn't walk many batters.
Everyone saw him when he pitched for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic earlier this year and started dreaming about what he would look like in their favorite team's uniform. He's an outstanding pitcher, and will have numerous suitors.
Lee, meanwhile, is a an outfielder that was born in Japan, but has played in the KBO since he was 18. He is known for his elite plate discipline and contact ability. In 2022, he had over double the walks (66) compared to strikeouts (32).
The power has been a bit up and down for him over the years, but the hitting ability is still there. He'll be another international player to watch this offseason.
Yamamoto would come in and be your ace right away. Imagine a 1-2 punch of him and Tarik Skubal. Losing E-rod wouldn't hurt nearly as bad if the Tigers were able to land Yamamoto.
The only thing with Lee is that he bats left-handed, and the Tigers' outfield is already overcrowded with lefties. As good of an add he would be, especially for the team Scott Harris is trying to build, it may not be as good of a fit as Yamamoto.
Considering how poor the free agent class is domestically, there's no reason the Tigers shouldn't be in on both of these players. They have the payroll room to do it. It will be tough with all the other suitors, but they should be heaviliy involved in trying to sign these players.