Of course the big news of the week is the Detroit Tigers got themselves out of the ridiculously huge Prince Fielder contract. That is good long term for the club, but the short term results is there is now a 100 RBI, 25-30 home run hole in the lineup. They also added a shorter, somewhat large, and somewhat ridiculous contract for second baseman Ian Kinsler. Even though it really seems both teams won this trade as they got guys who fit their home ball parks better the question for the Tigers becomes how big the 2014 payroll will get. The 2013 opening day payroll was just south of 150 million dollars. That number is very likely to increase.
Before we go any further let us look over the numbers:
- Currently the Tigers have 99 million dollars committed for 2014
- The luxury tax for 2014 kicks in at 189 million
- With the new national TV deal kicking in the Tigers get an additional 25 million in revenue for 2014
- This team is full on in win now mode
- We chose not to add the 1.9 million dollars in a non guaranteed money for Phil Coke at the moment
So we begin with the 99 million. That is 99 million dollars and just seven guys under contract. We should go ahead and add at least 13 million dollars for Max Scherzer. It also seems safe to say that Doug Fister is going to cost this team 6 to 8 million dollars. That would mean The Tigers would have 9 players under contract costing them some 119 million. The Tigers have only played the Luxury Tax once, and that was in 2008 and given the disaster that season turned into it seems safe to assume the payroll ceiling is 189 million. This leaves the Tigers roughly 70 million to fill out their roster.
Given the history of Mike Illitch as a sports owner in the city of Detroit, It seems safe to say that he will spend the money. It seems the Tigers are in the same spot as the early 2000′s Detroit Red Wings were. All Illitch did then was assemble the finest fantasy Hockey team ever that sported no less than five members of the Hockey Hall of Fame (Brett Hull, Luc Robitaile, Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, and Chris Chelios) and two more that will likely make it one day (Dominick Hasek and Pavel Datsuyk).
So what does that mean for the 2014 Tigers?
Well it is probably pretty safe to say Joe Nathan will be the closer. It is a way safer bet to say the moves have only just begun. This team still needs a left fielder, a power left handed bat, a true leadoff hitter, and at least two bullpen arms. That likely means Rick Porcello will be dealt, given the fact that is value will never be higher, and his ever escalating cost. That means Drew Smyly is the fifth starter and this team needs anther bullpen arm. Jose Alvarez is a likely candidate to take over Smyly’s role in the ‘pen.
We should expect a free agent acquisition for left field be that Curtis Granderson or Carlos Beltran. It seems very likely the Tigers will pony up the money for that. At this point Curtis is probably the better option in terms of cost and familiarity, but we can not rule out the Tigers courting Beltran. It also seems likely the Tigers will at least discuss resigning Jhonny Peralta to play third and maybe even some left field.
What we know for sure is the Prince Fielder trade was just act one.