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After the Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million deal last week, GM Dave Dombrowski said the team was "pretty well set" and "most likely" out of the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes. Of course, Dombrowski also said that Fielder was not a good fit, which is why it comes as zero surprise to hear that the Tigers are one of the six reported teams talking turkey with the highly touted Cuban free agent [via MLIVE]
The Tigers have been in serious talks with Cespedes and his agent, Adam Katz, former Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden reported late Monday.
According to Bowden, Cespedes is expected to travel to the United States in the next 7-10 days for face-to-face meetings. It is unclear if the 26-year-old Cespedes is scheduled to meet with Tigers officials.
At the beginning of December, it was reported that the Tigers were amongst the teams most interested in Cespedes' services and that doesn't appear to have changed any with the Fielder signing. Dombrowski and the Tigers want the fans to believe the lineup is "pretty well set," but that's just a defense mechanism to keep everyone feeling all warm and fuzzy inside if they don't land Cespedes. In reality, the Tigers could still benefit from a DH or a better defensive outfielder (and moving Delmon Young to DH). It really sounds like Mr. Ilitch is peacocking and I love it.
Before the Tigers went and shocked the world by signing Prince Fielder to a nine-year, $214 million contract last week, the team reportedly had a heavy interest in Roy Oswalt filling the No. 5 spot in the pitching rotation. The day prior to the Tigers agreeing to a deal with Fielder, reports surfaced that Oswalt was not interested in playing for Detroit, though.
Today, CBSSports' Jon Heyman passes along the info that Oswalt turned down a one-year, $10 million deal:
Though Oswalt's agent Bob Garber denied it, one other person familiar with the Tigers' discussions with regarding said Oswalt declined to accept Detroit's offer of about $10-million after it met Garber's asking price. That person said Garber requested $10 million, but after Tigers owner Mike Ilitch signed off on the $10 million, Garber later informed Detroit that Oswalt was not prepared to take the offer. Garber denied by text that he had asked for $10 million, saying, "I never gave the Tigers a number.''
Now that Fielder has signed and Oswalt rebuffed the Tigers interest, Detroit's beat writer Jason Beck said he'd be surprised if one of the Tigers' young in-house pitchers didn't wind up with the final spot in the rotation.
The Detroit Tigers suffered one of the major hits of the offseason for any team when Victor Martinez went down with a huge injury that put him out of next season, but now it looks like they've found a suitable replacement. Jon Heyman is reporting that the team agreed to a deal with Prince Fielder on a huge nine-year, $214 million contract. Fielder was considered the top free agent available and, as such, many figured he would be out of the Tigers' price range.
Some even said he wouldn't be a good fit immediately after Martinez went down, again, likely due to the fact that he'd come with such a high price tag. That being said, he did end up making less than the deal that Albert Pujols received this offseason from the Angels, a $240-million, 10-year deal.
Many thought that the Rangers, Mariners and Nationals were the top candidates to land Fielder's services. He hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 home runs and 120 RBI in 162 games a year ago for the Brewers. He's 27 years-old and has been incredibly consistent over the last few seasons.
Not even a sincere phone call from Justin Verlander, Mr. MVP himself, was enough to convince veteran righthander Roy Oswalt of his potential worth to Detroit baseball this spring. CBS Sports' Danny Knobler tweeted earlier today that Oswalt, for unspecified reasons, is not interested in coming to Motown this season.
The call from Verlander was obviously a nice touch, but it's clear that a rapidly-aging Oswalt is chasing a ring first and foremost, and believes a team like Boston offers the best opportunity.
General manager Dave Dombrowski has been eyeing Oswalt for a couple of years now, and after the Martinez injury, he probably figured a moderately-large splash on a veteran starter could scare away that black cloud hanging over the organization. Truth be told, it probably would have.
Verlander has played the role of Tigers PR man to prospective players before, but it really seems like Dombrowksi wanted to do everything possible to get this deal done and shore up the rotation. Plenty of other viable names are out there waiting by the phone, and judging by Detroit's level of aggressiveness post-Martinez, it might not be long before something goes down.
Pierre was abysmal on defense last year for the White Sox (-9.2 UZR). He is supposed to be an asset on the base paths, but he has led the league in caught stealing two years in a row. He hasn't seen an OPS north of .700 in three years and he will be 35 in August. He's a soft-hitting poor man's version of Damon (who could actually cost more) in an oversized uniform.
With Victor Martinez (likely) out for the season with a torn ACL, the Tigers must now try to find a bat that can replace a fraction of what he would have produced in 2012. One guy the Tigers are seriously looking at is Johnny Damon:
The Tigers are obviously familiar with Damon, as he played for the Tigers two years ago. He's been a model of consistency in the pros and one would think you know what you're getting. But that wasn't the case for Damon the first time he signed with the Tigers.
With Detroit, Damon had a line of .271/.355/.756 with eight home runs and 51 RBI in 145 games. He hit .261/.326/.743 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI in 150 games with the Tampa Bay Rays last season. In Damon's 17 seasons, he's only had three seasons (two coming early in his career) with a slugging lower than what he slugged in Detroit in 2010. His eight homers were the least he's had since 1997 and even his 11 steals were his lowest total since his rookie season in 1995 when he only played 47 games. Damon, entering his age 38 season, is not getting any younger, either.
Now, I thought he was an adequate replacement for Placido Polanco in 2010, and I was satisfied with his production despite otherwise having a down year, but I saw enough -- the Tigers should try to find another bat in attempting to replace Martinez.
The Detroit Tigers would are reportedly interested in adding starting pitcher Roy Oswalt to the mix but they appear to have strong competition from the Boston Red Sox. Fox Sports baseball writer Jon Morosi reports that the Red Sox are in hot pursuit of Oswalt after dealing shortstop Marco Scutaro.
Sources: #Tigers are on fringe of Roy Oswalt sweepstakes, not as involved as #RedSox at the moment. But situation is fluid.
If Boston remains motivated to land Oswalt the pitcher may be a long shot for Detroit, but as Bless You Boys mentions, making a play for the pitcher would be worth the effort.
It feels like the kind of move Detroit needs to make. I don't think anyone is going to sit here and debate that Oswalt can be a valuable contributor in the rotation. Some have mentioned that Detroit needs a left-hander, but I would argue that Detroit doesn't need a left-hander. Especially if they had a pitcher of Oswalt's quality whose splits are nearly equally good no matter the side of the plate the batter stands (career OPS against of.680 vs. RHB, .694 vs LHB).
Oswalt went 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies last season.
After re-signing some solid players earlier in the week, it looks like the Detroit Tigers might be looking at some outside players as well.
To clarify, #Tigers and #Astros have not yet discussed Carlos Lee in depth, sources say.
It sounds like the discussions didn't go particularly far, but it seems to imply that at the very least, the two teams did indeed discuss Astros first baseman Carlos Lee perhaps moving to the Tigers. Lee has a fairly large contract going right now so it would be a bit surprising for Detroit to pick him up at full salary, but there's a chance that Houston eats some of it.
Lee has been with the Astros for quite a while now and a trade to a contender would likely be nice in his eyes as his age continues to advance.
After good news earlier in the day regarding arbitration and re-signing some solid players, the Detroit Tigers were hit with some bad news on Tuesday, as the team has announced that designated hitter Victor Martinez has sustained a torn ACL in his left knee and is likely lost for the entirety of the 2012 MLB season. The official Twiter for the league tweeted the announcement.
Martinez injured his left knee last week during offseason conditioning, according to a release from the team. An MRI on Monday revealed that it was an ACL tear, and he'll be re-evaluated in a week for surgery to repair the torn ligament. There's a chance it could not require surgery, but all signs point to it being needed once the swelling goes down, as is the usual case.
There's still DH players available for the Tigers to snatch up to limit the damage, but Martinez was one of the key contributors to the team and one of the best in that regard. He hit .330 with 40 doubles and 12 home runs to go with 103 runs batted in for the 2011 season.
The Detroit Tigers have announced via Twitter a trio of one-year contracts and a trio of arbitration that has been avoided. It was reported earlier that the Tigers agreed to terms on a contract with Don Kelly, and now the Tigers have announced one-year deals for Delmon Young and Max Scherzer. These were the final three remaining players eligible for arbitration and now the Tigers have avoided it for the 10th straight year.
That's all five players up for arbitration this year signed to contracts. Safe to say that Dave Dombrowski is not a fan of arbitration.
Scherzer started 33 games for the Tigers in 2011, with a 15-9 record and a 4.43 earned run average to go with 174 strikeouts. Young had eight home runs and 32 runs batted in while hitting .274 in 40 games with the Tigers. His postseason was impressive, with five home runs in nine games, tying a club record for home runs in a single postseason.
It’s a mantra you can repeat every year at this time of year with the Detroit Tigers: Dave Dombrowski does not do arbitration.
The Tigers GM hasn’t gone to an arbitration hearing with a player during his 10-year tenure in Detroit. And that streak looks like it will continue. On Monday, the team agreed on one-year contracts with starting pitcher Rick Porcello and reliever Phil Coke. Tuesday, it was utility man Don Kelly’s turn.
CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman was the first to report that the Tigers and Kelly have agreed on a one-year, $900,000 deal. Kelly qualifed for “Super Two” status and a fourth year of arbitration based on his major league service time.
Last season, Kelly hit .245/.291/.381 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in plate appearances. But he became something of a hitting star in the postseason, compiling a 1.000 OPS in the ALDS versus the New York Yankees. And who can forget (or believe) his solo home run to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the decisive Game Five of that series?
But his true usefulness comes from his ability to play almost anywhere on the field. Kelly played eight positions last year for Detroit, including helping out at catcher and pitching a scoreless 1/3 of an inning in a late-June blowout loss to the Mets.
Kelly is expected to be the left-handed side of a platoon at third base with Brandon Inge this upcoming season.
Pitcher Max Scherzer and outfielder Delmon Young are the two players left to reach contract terms with and avoid arbitration hearings with the Tigers.
The Detroit Tigers locked up a pair of pitchers for next season on Monday during the arbitration process. The Tigers agreed to a deal with Phil Coke, who finished last year as a postseason contributor following a rough regular season, after signing Rick Porcello earlier in the day.
The deal between Coke, a 29-year-old lefty, and the Tigers was described in depth on the Tigers website.
Coke was eligible for arbitration for the first time after three full seasons, the last two of them in Detroit following his trade from the Yankees. He split last year between the Tigers' rotation and bullpen, with a 1-8 record and 4.82 ERA as a starter before reprising his role as a left-handed reliever and occasional setup man. He played a big role in the Tigers' postseason run.
Coke will earn $1.1 million, with another $50,000 possible in incentives -- $25,000 each for 65 and 70 appearances, or $25,000 each for 15 and 25 starts.
Coke has compiled a 10-14 record with the Tigers in two seasons after beginning his major league career with the New York Yankees. He made $440,000 last season, according to Baseball References's records, so his salary will be doubled this season.
The Tigers have signed young pitcher Rick Porcello to a new one year deal.
Free agent flame thrower, Joel Zumaya, who has battled an array of arm injuries since making his MLB debut in 2006 with the Tigers, has agreed to join his former team's biggest rival in the Central Division, the Minnesota Twins:
After throwing for teams in December and holding out for a roster spot and the right situation, Zumaya has agreed to terms with the Minnesota Twins, the reliever told MLB.com. The two sides spent Saturday putting together a deal that could pay him anywhere from $800,000 to $1.7 million if he reaches incentives.
A Twins official would neither confirm nor deny the deal to MLB.com, but said they’ve been in negotiations since December.
Zumaya weighed what he called "good offers" from three other clubs, but the Twins included guaranteed money rather than a minor-league deal with a Spring Training invite.
Zumaya's last pitch came at Target Field where he fractured his elbow on a pitch in June 2010. Zumaya made attempts to pitch last season, but the screws that were placed in his elbow caused discomfort and ultimately shut him down for the season. If healthy, he can be amongst the elite, but he's rarely been the former. Before being injured in 2010, he had 34 strike outs in over 38 innings and a 2.58 ERA.
Happy trails, Zoom.
With the start of Major League baseball's spring training only six weeks away many teams are beginning to hand out individual invites to their camps. The Detroit Tigers joined that list on Tuesday by announcing 18 invitees to their camp, which starts with pitchers and catchers reporting on February 20th.
Other players invited were Catchers Rob Brantly, Curt Casali, Bryan Holaday, Patrick Leyland, James McCann and Omir Santos. Infielders Nick Castellanos, Audy Ciriaco, Argenis Diaz and Ryan Strieby. Infielders/outfielders Justin Henry and Eric Patterson also received invites. Finally, Outfielders Quintin Berry, Jerad Head and Matt Young were invited. The rest of the invitees are expected to report on February 24, four days after pitchers and catchers have their first workouts.
Are the Detroit Tigers really in the hunt for Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza?
Just before the new year, FoxSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Tigers had joined the cluster of teams interested in trading for Garza. But could Detroit match or surpass whatever the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays might be able to offer in a deal?
According to CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan, the Tigers are apparently making some progress with the Cubs in trade talks for Garza. Detroit would give up “a package of prospects” in return. But the question is which prospects?
The name that comes immediately to mind is top pitching prospect Jacob Turner. But would the Tigers really give up their best minor league pitcher when Garza has two arbitration eligible seasons remaining before free agency? The Oakland Athletics could ask for Turner and Nick Castellanos in a a deal for Gio Gonzalez because Gonzalez is under club control for another four seasons.
Yet the Yankees have reportedly cooled on a Garza deal because of what the Cubs are asking for in return. So it appears that the Tigers would indeed have to part with one or two of their best prospects in a trade.
Another name that Kaplan mentioned in his report is Casey Crosby, who was considered one of the Tigers’ best minor league pitchers until he struggled with arm problems over the past couple of years. Crosby might hold extra appeal to the organization, since he’s from the Chicago area. But it’s difficult to imagine that being much of a factor with the Cubs’ new front office of GM Jed Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein.
So would the Tigers trade Turner and Crosby (and likely one or two other prospects) for Garza? We’re talking about a pitcher who was 10-10 with the Cubs last season, but compiled a 3.32 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings. Plus, he’s pitched most of his career in the American League, so there shouldn’t be any question as to whether he was facing inferior competition.
There’s something to be said for “going for it” while the Tigers are among the playoff contenders in the AL. Such a deal would definitely qualify.
The Detroit Tigers may be attacking their offseason with the strategy of building for the present, rather than for the future.
The Tigers drafted right-handed starting pitcher Jacob Turner as the ninth overall selection in 2009. He has been considered the top prospect in the Detroit farm system for the past two years. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Tigers might be looking to deal him for a major-league pitcher.
The Tigers could certainly use more help in their rotation right away, as ace Justin Verlander is the only true standout arm in the starting five at the moment. The Tigers organization may be thinking about their postseason run in 2011 and of the opinion that they have all of the components in place to make another run at a championship right away. More seasoned and proven arms could go a long way toward making another postseason run materialize.
Turner made his major-league debut in 2011 with a 5.1 inning appearance in July, during which he gave up two earned runs, three hits and three walks while striking out six.
For all news and information regarding the Detroit Tigers, please visit Bless You Boys.
With about two months to go until pitchers and catchers report the Detroit Tigers have been active within their minor league system. On Tuesday they announced which coaches will be moving around the minor league system, with the major announcement of who will be managing each minor league club:
The Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens will be led by manager Phil Nevin, pitching coach A.J. Sager and hitting coach Leon Durham. The Double-A Erie SeaWolves will be led by manager Chris Cron, pitching coach Ray Burris and hitting coach Jerry Martin.
The club further announced that Al Nipper has joined the organization as the minor league pitching coordinator. The team also reached an agreement to continue their association with the Connecticut short season A club, which is in its third season after being based in Oneonta, NY.
Balester joins the Tigers after spending parts of the last four seasons in the big leagues with the Nationals. In his first two seasons, he was actually a starting pitcher for 22 games. In 2010, he was a reliever and had a 2.57 ERA in 17 appearances. Last season, he had a 4.54 ERA in 23 appearances.
Via Bless You Boys, here is what Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski had to say about Balester:
"Acquiring Collin Balester from the Nationals today adds another good arm to our organization. He has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen in the past, a role we are looking for him to fill for our club in 2012."
Perry appeared in 36 games last season and had an ERA of 5.35. Although Perry certainly has potential, he struggled with control during most of his time in Detroit. Perhaps a fresh start will be good for him.
Detroit Tigers minor league shortstop Gustavo Nunez was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. Players not protected on a team’s 40-man roster were eligible to be drafted.
Nunez, 23, played in Class A Lakeland and Class AA Erie this season in the Tigers’ organization. Overall, he hit .276/.333/.386 with five home runs, 26 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Defensively, Nunez commited nine errors in 397 chances.
Obviously, if the Tigers truly didn’t want to lose Nunez, he would’ve been protected on the 40-man roster. He’s been held in some regard as a shortstop prospect, but GM Dave Dombrowski said there were only so many spots available and other players they needed to keep.
Detroit will receive $50,000 from the Pirates for the selection. Nunez must stay on Pittsburgh’s major league roster all season, or be offered back to the Tigers (for $25,000) before being sent down to the minors.
The Tigers did not select a player in the Rule 5 draft. (Most teams pass, since the player has to be kept on the major league roster all season.) Dombrowski said there was a player he would’ve liked to pick, but that prospect was gone by the time the Tigers’ selection came up at No. 26.
You can see the full results of the Rule 5 draft at Bless You Boys.
The Detroit Tigers have improved their bullpen with the signing of Octavio Dotel Thursday morning. The 38-year-old reliever brings a championship pedigree to Detroit, as he was a member of the World Series winning St. Louis Cardinals during the 2011 season. According to a report, he has agreed to a one-year deal with an option for a second:
The journeyman reliever is now with his 13th MLB team and third in a year after pitching for both Toronto and St. Louis last season. In splitting time with the Cardinals and Blue Jays last season he was 5-4 with a 3.50 ERA in 54 innings pitched. He pitched 10 1/3 innings in the postseason for St. Louis and earned a win on the mound in both the Division Series and the League Championship Series.
UPDATE: Heyman reports that Dotel's deal is worth $3.5 million.
Fans who hoped the Detroit Tigers would pull off a big trade or free agent signing during baseball’s winter meetings might be disappointed with the team’s lack of sizzle. But late Wednesday night, the Tigers were close to improving their bullpen.
As the day developed, Detroit emerged as a front-runner to signing reliever Octavio Dotel. Most reports had the Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals — the team Dotel ended the season and won the World Series with — competing for his services.
But by the end of the day, according to CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler, the two sides are on the verge of agreeing to a contract. Reports have the Tigers signing Dotel to a one-year deal with an option for 2013. That’s the compromise between Dotel wanting a two-year contract and Detroit not wanting to commit to more than one year.
The financial terms of the deal have not yet been revealed.
Dotel, 38, posted a 3.50 ERA for the Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays last season. In the postseason, Dotel compiled a 2.61 ERA, helping the Cardinals to their championship.
The Tigers will be the 13th team he has pitched with during his career. He has also played for the Mets, Astros, Athletics, Yankees, Royals, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Dodgers and Rockies in 13 major league seasons.
Dotel will be important for the Tigers in middle innings primarily because of his ability to get right-handed hitters out. Opposing righties hit .154/.198/.211 in 133 plate appearances against him. He struck out 45 and walked only seven.
Even better, Dotel gives Jim Leyland another strikeout option about of the bullpen. He averaged 10.33 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011. Only Al Alburquerque had a better rate among Tigers relievers. And unlike Alburquerque, Dotel isn’t wild. He walked 2.83 batters per nine.
Middle relief was frequently a problem for the Tigers last season, and even more so in the postseason. Relievers like Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth have yet to pitch consistently well. And Alburquerque has to prove his elbow can withstand a full season. Dotel should take care of those questions and effectively bridge the gap between Detroit’s starting pitchers and late-inning relievers.
Publicly, the Detroit Tigers might be telling reporters that they’re willing to fill the fifth spot in their starting rotation from within. Or perhaps sign a lower-tier free agent to a one-year deal and use him as a swingman between the rotation and bullpen.
Privately, however, the Tigers’ actions speak otherwise. Though they’re now out of the running for Mark Buehrle, it’s pretty clear that Detroit was interested in signing him at the right price.
Late Tuesday night, trade rumors attached the Tigers to another left-handed starting pitcher, though one who’s younger and throws harder. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle talked to multiple sources with the Tigers who told her that the team was interested in Oakland Athletics left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
Last season, Gonzalez finished with a 16-12 record and 3.12 ERA in 202 innings for the Athletics. He struck out 197 batters, while walking 91. A left-hander with strikeout stuff who can also pitch a lot of innings is pretty much exactly what the Tigers would like to add to their rotation.
In addition, Gonzalez isn’t eligible for arbitration. That would keep him under club control for four years, a luxury that any team would have to pay highly for. (Why four instead of three? The A’s called Gonzalez up after June in 2008. He was recalled in August, to be exact.)
Look at how much the Tigers had to give up for Doug Fister. Being under club control until 2015 had a lot to do with that.
Furthermore, Slusser was told that Detroit would be willing to include top pitching prospect Jacob Turner in a deal. It would take much more to get Gonzalez from the A’s, however. The New York Yankees appear to be in a stronger position to make a trade with better pitching prospects to offer. For the Tigers to compete, they would likely have to include a major league player such as outfielder Brennan Boesch.
A’s GM Billy Beane might even push for third base prospect Nick Castellanos to be included in a trade for Gonzalez. In fact, Castellanos could be the player Beane insists on. According to the Detroit News’ Lynn Henning, that would be a deal-breaker for the Tigers.
Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle is one of the most coveted players in this offseason's free agent class, and while the Detroit Tigers have shown interest in the 32 year-old right-hander in recent weeks, they are now most likely out of the running to sign him, via MLive.com.
Buehrle wants to sign a multi-year deal and has reportedly received multiple three and four year offers, but Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski confirmed on Monday that Detroit is not likely to offer a multi-year deal to fill a rotation spot at this point.
"We’re open to be in a position where we listen to anything, but we think that if we have our four starters that are established that we would go on with the young guys as a fifth starter," Dombrowski said. "We think that we have more than one that might be able to step up. We’re not looking for them to be our fourth starter."
The Tigers obviously already have their ace in Cy Young winner and MVP Justin Verlander and they are clearly looking to fill out the rotation at the bottom rather than the top, so it appears that Buehrle, who is believed to be attracting deals in the $35+ million range, will clearly not be their man. Instead, the team will call on a youngster within the organization -- the MLive.com article mentions Jacob Turner, Adam Wilk, Drew Smyly, Andy Oliver and Duane Below as potential candidates -- or perhaps a versatile veteran starter who can also work out of the bullpen to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.
The Detroit Tigers needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for a potential addition this week. The team is expected to add a player through trade or free agency, but may also anticipate selecting a player in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday.
First baseman Ryan Strieby drew the short straw on Monday, as the Tigers outrighted him to Class AAA Toledo. Strieby cleared waivers and since he’s longer protected on Detroit’s 40-man roster, he’s eligible to be selected by another team in the Rule 5 draft.
Strieby, a fourth-round pick in 2006, hit .255/.341/.429 with 19 home runs and 76 RBIs in 557 plate appearances for Toledo this past season. He played exclusively at first base in 2011 after the Tigers experimented with playing him in left field last year. With Miguel Cabrera entrenched at first base in Detroit, Strieby’s path to the majors was blocked and the hope was that his power bat could be utilized in left field. But that obviously didn’t work out.
Injuries to his left wrist stunted Strieby’s development considerably, sapping his bat speed and power. His standout season was a 28-homer, 94-RBI campaign for Class A Lakeland in 2008. But this year, he struck out 171 times. If that was happening at the Triple-A level, how would Strieby fare against major league pitching?
If Strieby gets picked up by the right team, he could benefit from the proverbial change of scenery. But will his bat speed and power return and put him back on a major league track? That remains to be seen.
The free agent and trade markets for second basemen haven’t worked in the Detroit Tigers’ favor thus far. With baseball’s Winter Meetings underway on Monday, the team is continuing to explore options.
The latest rumor, from the NY Post’s Joel Sherman, has the Tigers as one of three clubs talking to the New York Mets about acquiring infielder-outfielder Daniel Murphy.
Murphy, 26, is a left-handed hitter who hit .320/.362/.448 with six home runs and 48 RBIs in 423 plate appearances for the Mets last season. He mostly played first base, subbing for the injured Ike Davis. But he also played 101 games at that position in 2009.
He missed the 2010 season due to various knee injuries, the most serious being a torn MCL suffered after a hard takeout slide at second base. Murphy tore his MCL yet again this past August, but it was a less serious injury that didn’t require surgery.
Obviously, Murphy wouldn’t play much — if any — first base with the Tigers, but he’s also seen time at second and third base, as well as left field, during his career.
So he could play at all three positions, adding yet another name to the cluster of players currently set to platoon at second and third base. But his bat might help him stand out in competition for a regular job. He could see some time in the outfield too, though judging from his defensive metrics, left field might not be the best position for him.
According to Sherman, the Mets like Andy Dirks, viewing him as a possible replacement for Angel Pagan (who could be non-tendered) in center field next season. The Tigers would likely have to include another player, probably a pitcher, to make a deal happen.
The Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres are the two other teams that have inquired about Murphy.
There's been a lot of recent buzz about international outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, with multiple teams rumored to be interested. Back on Nov. 28, Detroit Tigers vice president and director of amateur scouting spoke of Cespedes, saying he was "a five-tool player," and that he had a "combination of power and speed." Those words alone are enough to note that the Tigers are interested.
In fact, most teams appear to be interested.
Yoenis isn't expected to come cheap by any stretch of the imagination. The last time a player from Cuba came into the MLB with hype and fanfare, Aroldis Chapman signed a contract for $30 million over six years. It could get really expensive for any team interested. That being said, the Tigers have been noted as one of the teams most interested in Cespedes, according to Jon Morosi on Twitter:
If the Tigers are serious about bringing in Cespedes, they'd definitely have to open up the checkbook. In the Cuban National League, Cespedes hit .333/.424/.667 with 33 home runs in 90 games.
Yoenis Cespedes has been the mystery man of the baseball offseason thus far.
Who is this Cuban outfielder that is making general managers — including the Tigers’ Dave Dombrowski — fly down to the Dominican Republic to see him work out? How much money is it going to sign him, especially if you’re not the Yankees or Red Sox? And just how do you pronounce that name?
Cespedes, 26, is in the Dominican Republic after defecting from Cuba, and currently waiting for his visa to be approved. After that, MLB is expected to declare him a free agent and the multi-team auction can begin for someone who appears to be the consummate five-tool player.
Cespedes hit .333/.424/.667 in Cuba this season and was one of two players to set a league record with 33 home runs. Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein calls him a “legitimate centerfielder with plus power and speed” and “arguably the best player to come out of Cuba in a generation.”
However, Cespedes is expected to be an expensive acquisition. Many observers point to the six-year, $30 million contract Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman received from the Cincinnati Reds and expect Cespedes to fetch at least the same, if not far more. $50 million has been a number thrown around.
But how long would it take Cespedes to be ready for the majors? Obviously, the expectation would be to have him playing in the big leagues soon, given the money he’ll likely receive.
How would a team like the Tigers handle that? Would they trade an incumbent outfielder like Delmon Young, knowing that Cespedes would likely take a spot early in the season? Or would Detroit have to keep such players, just in case Cespedes proves he’s not quite ready?
Again, all expectations project Cespedes to be ready quickly. But it might not be a risk a team like the Tigers are willing to take, unlike the Yankees or Red Sox, who can more easily absorb a financial loss. (For example, players like Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa or Daisuke Matsuzaka.)
However, Dombrowski has shown more of an interest in competing for international players in recent years. Supposedly, he’s had an eye on Cespedes for quite a while. This might be the guy who compels the Tigers to take the big plunge.
Shortstop Jose Reyes would be the dream free agent acquisition for many Detroit Tigers fans. The general sentiment — which has been encouraged by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski — is that Reyes would be too pricey for a payroll that is already carrying two $20 million per year players in Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.
But if Reyes’ price were somehow to come down from a lack of bidders in the free agent market, perhaps the Tigers could make a surprise push for the shortstop.
That’s the scuttlebutt SI.com’s Jon Heyman posted on Twitter, calling the Tigers an “outside late threat” for Reyes. Heyman also quoted someone from another team (presumably an executive) who called the Tigers “good poker players.”
It wouldn’t be the first time Detroit has sat back to see how the market played out, only to then swoop in when the terms worked in their favor. The Tigers signed Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez under such circumstances. Jose Valverde and Johnny Damon could also be considered players who Detroit wasn’t in on early, but pursued once it became clear not many teams were competing for their services.
All it takes is one team to blow up the market for a player, as we saw with Carl Crawford and the Boston Red Sox last year, along with Jayson Werth and the Washington Nationals. But as of right now, it doesn’t appear that general managers consider Reyes a $20 million per year player. The one offer that he’s known to have received is a six-year, $90 million package from the Florida Marlins.
Could a six-year, $100 million offer (with an option for a seventh year) win the Reyes sweepstakes, as MLive.com’s James Schmehl speculates? Perhaps, but the Marlins and New York Mets might be willing to go that high, as well.
Giving a multi-year contract to Reyes would come with some risk, as calf and hamstring injuries have limited him to an average of 130 games during the past two seasons. In 2009, Reyes played in only 36 games because of injuries.
But the Tigers need a top-of-the-order hitter with speed and who can get on base, and Reyes fits both of those criteria wonderfully. He led the National League this past season with a .337 average and compiled an OBP of .384. Reyes also stole 39 bases, which would easily lead the Tigers. But there has to be some concern of how far down that is from his days of stealing 60-70 bases.
Signing Reyes would also cause the Tigers to shuffle around their infield and possibly alienate some current players. For instance, what happens to Jhonny Peralta, who had an excellent All-Star season for the Tigers? Would he be moved to another position? Would he become trade bait?
However, that’s a problem the Tigers have shown a willingness to take on before. Detroit already had Brandon Inge entrenched at third base when they acquired Cabrera before the 2008 season. That didn’t stop Dombrowski from pouncing on a chance to get one of the best hitters in baseball.
Is Reyes worth causing the same sort of upheaval? He very well may be.
The Detroit Tigers have added some insurance at the catcher position on Wednesday, re-signing Omir Santos to a minor league deal, according to James Schmehl. Santos will likely be invited to big league camp at the onset of spring training, but he likely won't see time in the big leagues without an injury. There was initial doubt that the Tigers would be bringing Santos back after the team signed Gerald Laird to a one-year deal as Alex Avila's backup.
But they're bringing Santos back for a little insurance. The 30 year-old hit .227 in 11 games last year when Victor Martinez sprained his knee. For the Mud Hens, he had two homers, 16 RBIs and hit .245 in 49 games. He'll be the primary catcher for the Mud Hens this year , with guys like John Murrian and Jeff Kunkel behind him.
According to the report, the Tigers also signed outfielder Jefad Head to a minor league deal. He played for Triple-A Columbus of the International League last year, and was 3-for-24 with the Indians in the majors.
On Wednesday, the Detroit Tigers announced that they've agreed to a two-year contract with second baseman Ramon Santiago. This past season, Santiago played in 101 games, the third-highest total of his career, but only had 258 plate appearances. His average was decent at .260, par the course for the player who has spent eight of his ten seasons with the Tigers. His other two, in 2004-05, were spent with the Seattle Mariners, but he only played in 27 games during that time.
Santiago tested the free agent market briefly, and decided to remain in Detroit. He's joined several other utility men in regards to signing two-year contracts, joining the ranks of guys like Willie Bloomquist, John McDonald and Clint Barmes. He might be in line to get some more playing time as Detroit's second baseman this season, after performing well in the Tigers' drive to the ALCS last season.
If the Tigers don't sign anybody else, Santiago could be in line for splitting time with Ryan Raburn at second base. The Tigers had previously been linked to a potential trade with Maicer Izturis, but this signing makes that deal unlikely, given the similarities between the two players.
It's that time of year when rumors run wild and the Tigers are seemingly linked to every available player on the market. Angels infielder Maicer Izturis is the latest player the Tigers are reportedly interested in leading up to the Winter Meetings next week, according to Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com:
The Tigers are looking for upgrades at second base, third base and the leadoff spot. Izturis, 31, has filled all of those roles over an eight-year career. [...]
Izturis is coming off a season in which he posted a .276/.334/.388 line while spending time at second base, shortstop and third base. He is said to be a close friend of Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, a fellow Venezuelan.
Izturis is said to be the Tigers' second choice behind the Braves' Martin Prado. Izturis is owed $3.8 million next season and becomes a free agent next winter.
The Detroit Tigers are fine with the back end of their bullpen, with setup man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde. Left-hander Phil Coke can probably be considered a dependable late-inning option, as well.
But in the middle of that bullpen, the Tigers have several question marks. They have some quality arms in Al Alburquerque, Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, but neither has proven to be reliable. Their performance in the postseason only underlined that uncertainty.
That’s why Detroit is looking at adding a veteran reliever to help in those middle innings. According to FoxSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, Octavio Dotel is a pitcher they appear to be zeroing in on.
Dotel, 38, finished this past season with a 3.50 ERA for the St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to a late-July trade, he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and held up well against AL East competition with a 3.68 ERA. In the postseason, Dotel compiled a 2.61 ERA, helping the Cardinals to a World Series championship.
What makes Dotel especially appealing is his performance versus right-handed hitters. Opposing righties hit .154/.198/.211 in 133 plate appearances against him. He struck out 45 and walked only seven.
But overall, Dotel still brings strikeout stuff. He averaged 10.33 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011, while walking 2.83 per nine. That’s exactly the sort of reliever Jim Leyland (or any manager, really) prefers to bring out of the bullpen in tight middle-inning situations. He’d help bridge the gap between the starters and late-inning relief corps nicely.
Dotel is probably better suited as a situational reliever these days, with his days as a closer far behind him. But he has performed well in that role, racking up 21 saves as recently as 2010 for the Pirates. If he ended up closing for the Tigers for any reason, however, it would likely mean things aren’t going well.
Morosi reports that the Cardinals have inquired about bringing Dotel back. The Reds and Angels are other teams who have shown interest, along with the Tigers.
The most popular starting pitcher on the free agent market might be Mark Buehrle. Several teams — including the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals and Marlins — have shown interest in the 32-year-old left-hander since baseball’s shopping season began. The Detroit Tigers can now apparently be added to the list of pursuers.
According to the Detroit News’ Lynn Henning, the Tigers have also inquired about Buehrle. If that’s the case, they can get in line with what’s reported to be as many as 10 teams interested in his services. That could make him an expensive acquisition.
But if Detroit feels it needs a veteran, innings-eating starting pitcher, preferably one who pitches left-handed, then Buehrle would do more than keep a seat warm until Jacob Turner is ready for the majors. He’d be an excellent addition, giving the Tigers arguably the deepest starting rotation in baseball.
Three weeks ago, Buehrle was at the top of my list of five free agents the Tigers should pursue. Here’s what I wrote at the time:
Buehrle has won 13 games in each of the past three years. He’s made 30 or more starts and pitched more than 200 innings in every one of his 11 full major league seasons. His career ERA is less than four runs, pitching in the American League. And over his career, Buehrle has averaged two walks per nine innings. He’s like a left-handed Doug Fister. Actually, he’s more like a pitching version of Victor Martinez. Solid. Consistent.
Signing Buehrle would also have the added benefit of weakening the Chicago White Sox. Not to mention that he’s been rather successful against Detroit during his career. (Well, except for that Sept. 4 start in which he gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.) In the past, Buehrle sounded as if he’d prefer to stay in Chicago or go pitch for his hometown Cardinals. But neither may be a viable option now, especially when at least four other teams are reportedly interested in him, three of which are arguably the top clubs in the AL.
However, Bless You Boys brings up an interesting observation about Buehrle, via Fangraphs. His ERA numbers (3.59 this past season, 3.83 for his career) may not be completely accurate. Given the number of hits and home runs he regularly gives up, he likely maintains a low ERA due to fielders making errors behind him. Those runs end up scoring, but are scored as unearned runs.
That may be something to consider if the bidding for Buehrle gets higher than the Tigers would like. Reports say that the left-hander is looking for a three-year deal.
The Detroit Tigers have been pretty quiet so far this offseason. Now that Thanksgiving has passed and the Winter Meetings await next week, activity might be picking up a bit.
SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported via Twitter Sunday night that the Tigers “have inquired” on free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. MLB.com’s Jason Beck confirmed that report, but also noted that no negotiations have taken place between the Tigers and Ramirez.
Ramirez, 33, has been with the Chicago Cubs for the past eight-and-a-half seasons, after being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003. He opted out of a mutual option with the Cubs after this season. Considering that option was for $16 million, Ramirez is obviously looking for a big payday on the open market.
This past season with the Cubs, Ramirez hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 home runs and 93 RBIs. Those numbers are certainly a huge upgrade from the .617 OPS, nine homers and 54 RBIs that the Tigers got from their third basemen in 2011. That kind of production would probably continue next season if Detroit goes with a platoon of Brandon Inge and Don Kelly.
Ramirez doesn’t bring a great glove with him, however. Though he committed just 14 errors at third base this year, Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) doesn’t view him very favorably, ranking him as one of the worst defenders at that position in baseball.
The Tigers have made the decision to take stronger offense over better defense at several positions over the past couple of seasons, so bringing on Ramirez would fall in line with that philosophy.
However, it should be pointed out that Detroit’s defense did not suffer with presumably weaker defenders like Jhonny Peralta at shortstop and Alex Avila at catcher. Both players improved considerably on defense. But hoping for the same from Ramirez might be asking too much.
After the regular season, Tigers owner Mike Ilitch mentioned that he’d like to add another big bat to his team’s lineup. Ramirez would certainly bring that. With one more 25-homer, 100-RBI bat in the middle of the order, Detroit would have a deeper lineup comparable to the likes of the Texas Rangers.
Ramirez wouldn’t add any speed to the lineup and isn’t the contact hitter that the top of the order needs. But the Tigers could find those traits in other players they might pursue. And if Ramirez were to hit third, for example, he gets on base enough to give Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Peralta and Brennan Boesch someone to drive in.
Ramirez is a very intriguing possibility for the Tigers, one the team reportedly tried to acquire at the trade deadline this past season. And he wouldn’t be a $20 million per year player, a figure GM Dave Dombrowski (and Ilitch) prefer not to add to the payroll. But how much of a multi-year commitment would the Tigers be willing to give to a 33-year-old player who is approaching the downside of his career?
Each year at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings, the general managers have what's called the Rule 5 Draft. It's basically a way for players who are in the minor leagues, not on an organization's 40-man roster, to be selected by teams who could use the player's services on their major league roster at the present time.
On Friday, the Tigers purchased the contracts of five of their minor league players to protect them from the draft:
The Detroit Tigers today purchased the contracts of left-handed pitcher Matt Hoffman from Triple-A Toledo, right-hander Tyler Stohr and left-hander Casey Crosby from Double-A Erie, outfielder Avisail Garcia from Class A Lakeland and infielder Hernan Perez from Class A West Michigan.
It effect, they were added to the club's 40-man protected list to keep them out of next month's Rule 5 draft.
The Tigers also outrighted disappointing shortstop prospect Cale Iorg to Toledo, making him available for the draft. With the purchasing of these five contracts and the recent Laird signing, the Tigers currently have 39 players protected for the draft.
Not many considered the Tigers bringing back catcher Gerald Laird, but that's what Dave Dombrowski did the other day, officially announcing that the light-hitting Laird, who is fresh off of winning a World Series as a backup in St. Louis, would be signing a one-year deal to back up Alex Avila in 2012.
Dave Dombrowski is pleased that Laird will be back:
"Gerald is a veteran catcher that is familiar with both our pitching staff and organization," Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski said today in a release. "As a right-handed hitter, he is the solid complement to Alex Avila as our backup catcher for the 2012 season."
I was probably one of the few Tigers fans who would've been fine had the Tigers re-signed Laird after the 2010 season, knowing that Victor Martinez wasn't going to hold up behind the plate. The Tigers corrected that mistake with this signing. Martinez will now be the full-time DH and the defensively sound Laird will spell Avila when necessary so that he doesn't have to catch 18 straight games ever again.
The Detroit Tigers have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with catcher Gerald Laird, according to reports from Ken Rosenthal. The recent news was that the Tigers considered Laird their top option as a backup catcher, and now confirmation from Rosenthal confirms they were able to get a deal done. Any other information regarding the signing is unknown at this time.
Laird was the top choice for Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski, who announced two weeks ago his intention of signing a right-handed hitting backup catcher. Laird spent this past season with the St. Louis Cardinals, winning a World Series with the team as the backup to Yadier Molina. Laird hit .232 with 12 RBIs and a home run in 95 at-bats last season.
In 2009 and 2010, Laird was the starting catcher for Detroit, with a batting average of .225 and .207 in each year, respectively. He caught 670 2/3 innings for the Tigers in 2010, but obviously would not get anything near that amount barring serious injury to Alex Avila.
The Detroit Tigers are set to bring back catcher Gerald Laird, according to Jon Morosi. Morosi and Ken Rosenthal reported on Thursday morning that the Tigers were close to signing a backup catcher, and apparently the backup catcher is Laird and not .
Shoppach was a possibility for the
#Tigers in recent days, but Laird is now their top choice.
Laird spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons in Detroit as their starting catcher. He had a batting average of .225 and .207 in '09 and '10, respectively. This past season, he played for the St. Louis Cardinals and won a World Series.
Although I'm sure many Tigers fans are not thrilled with the idea of Laird returning to Detroit, the important thing is he will be a backup, not a starter. Alex Avila is the Tigers' starting catcher, and Laird is merely being signed to give Avila a chance to rest every now and then in 2012.
Catcher Alex Avila took quite a beating behind the plate for the Detroit Tigers during the 2011 season, especially in the final months of the season. After Victor Martinez suffered an injury that prevented him from catching, Avila was forced to catch on almost a daily basis. At one point he caught 18 games in a row until Omir Santos was called up for a day to give him a break.
The Tigers have already decided that Avila will have a permanent backup in 2012 since Victor Martinez will permanently be a designated hitter. They don't want a situation like last season to arise where Avila is forced into the lineup every game, so they have been on the lookout for a solid free agent catcher that can step in for Avila when needed next season.
According Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi, the Tigers' search for a catcher could be coming to a close.
Jason Beck reports that if the Tigers are in fact close to signing a backup catcher, Kelly Shoppach is not the man they are after. It's unclear who the main target is, but if a deal is about to happen, we should find out shortly.
Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez are aiming to play baseball again in 2012 — though they won’t be doing so with the Detroit Tigers.
The 36 year-old Guillen is a free agent and the 38 year-old Ordonez had surgery last week to repair his ankle. President Dave Dombrowski announced earlier this month that they have in all likelihood played their final games with Detroit.
The Tigers won 43 games in 2003. Then Guillen came on board the next season, and the team won 72 games. Ordonez joined Detroit the next season, and by his second year, the Tigers won 95 games and went to the World Series. After almost reaching the World Series again last season, Guillen and Ordonez will be moving on.
“I have good memories from the Tigers — good friends, good guys, great fans, great town to play baseball,” Guillen said. “It’s part of the game. It’s part of your career. We have to understand the situation, our situation. But at the same time, if Magglio proves he can play, he’ll play. I can play.”
Like Ordonez, Guillen’s comeback ability lies largely in his ability to get healthy.
“I’m healthy,” Guillen said. “My knee’s good. My calf is good. I’m already working out in Miami, two weeks already.”
A second baseman and right-handed hitting catcher are among the Tigers' priorities this offseason. A handful of older veterans will be trimmed from the roster.
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