With the 2015 season being a major let down for the Tigers, there were plenty of areas to focus with the bullpen being a major dumpster fire. The trades of to-be free agents David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Joakim Soria netted some help, but upgrades will be needed without a doubt.
GM Al Avila has been quoted as referring to the Tigers spending this off-season as “more restricted” based on money already tied up in contracts over the next few seasons (check it out here). That said, it seems as if Detroit will focus more on the tier 2 type prospects and won’t be in the hunt for David Price, Zack Greinke, or in my opinion Yoenis Cespedes. Price will command 6+ years and $200+ million, while Cespedes will get over $100mm almost surely.
That said, Detroit will look for two starters as Avila stated, a back-end arm, possibly a left-fielder, and hopefully some more bullpen help.
Names currently tied to the Tigers in the rumor mill, include reliever Darren O’Day, Joakim Soria, along with a few others.
If I was a betting man, my money would be on these four signings as this tends to be the popular debate…
Starter #1: Scott Kazmir, he’ll be 32-years old and coming off a season in which he pitched well for Oakland (2.38 ERA), but struggled in a smaller ballpark in Houston (4.17 ERA). Kazmir will have a very good year from time-to-time, but expectations can be around the 3.75-4.00 ERA mark and close to 8 k’s per 9 average. Kazmir made $7mm in 2014 and $13mm last year, ranks 10th on ESPN Keith Law’s top free agents with Law projecting a deal at 3-years and $45-48mm
Who I’d like to see: Given Price/Greinke are too expensive, I’d like this signing
Starter #2: Jeff Samardzija,turns 31 and is no stranger pitching in the AL Central, as he spent last season with the White Sox where he made $9.8mm. I think Detroit signs him based on potential that he’s flashed in the past and affordability that he has based on having a down year in 2015 with a 4.96 ERA in 32 starts with Chicago. What fans should focus on is that Jeff S (no way in hell I spell his last name more than once per entry) had an ERA of 3.61 between 2011 and 2014 along with a 8.8 K per 9 ratio, albeit in the National League. Law ranks Jeff 20th on his top 50 free agents list.
Who I’d like to see: Jordan Zimmerman
Left Field: Alex Gordon, will also be 32 like Kazmir and is solid defender with a very capable bat. He was injured in 2015, however he had a string of 4 years wear injuries never came in to play. I believe Detroit was in line to sign Cespedes before he went on that rampage in New York and is in line for a bigger contract and I believe Upton will cost too much based on his age. Law ranks Gordon 6th and thinks the market will give him 4-years and around $16mm
Who I’d like to see: Justin Upton
Closer: Joakim Soria. I actually believe Detroit may make a trade, but we haven’t seen Avila at work here so lets stick to signings. After the trade, Soria went on to have a great rest of the season in Pittsburgh where he didn’t close but set-up and did it well with a 2.03 ERA. Soria is unranked on Law’s list
Who I’d like to see: Soria
Others to consider: Cespedes, Rajai Davis, Brett Anderson, Johnny Cueto, Doug Fister, Wei-Yin Chen, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Jordan Zimmerman, O’Day, Frieri, Lowe, Parnell