It has been a relatively quiet offseason for the Detroit Tigers, as they have been involved in a number of rumors but they don’t have much to show for them aside from the signings of Gerald Laird and Octavio Dotel, and the recent injury to Al Alburquerque. Big names such as Jose Reyes and Aramis Ramirez have come and gone, as well as second-tier guys such as Kelly Johnson and David DeJesus. There are still some options for the Tigers, though, at their positions of need.
While the Tigers seem comfortable with a platoon of Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago here, this is still a position that could use an upgrade, albeit less of one than the others. As stated in a previous article, Maicer Izturis is likely available on the cheap from the Angels, especially after their signing of Albert Pujols. As it stands right now, they have seven infielders on their roster that are worthy of an every day job. Howie Kendrick is also another option, and I would actually prefer him to Izturis, as he has shown to have a better bat and a better glove over the years. On the free agent market, there is little left to be had, and none of the options would likely be better than what we already have.
First off, a platoon of Don Kelly and Brandon Inge for a full season scares me, and I’m hoping Dombrowski is doing everything he can to try and fix this. Going back to the Angels, Alberto Callaspo would be a great fit and would move Kelly back to his ultimate utility player role. Callaspo has shown that he can get on base at a .350 or above clip and plays great defense. Chase Headley and Martin Prado are both still options as well. The free agent market for third base is about the same as it is for second; Eric Chavez and Wilson Betemit would be relative upgrades over what we have, but there are much better options to be found on the trade front.
There are still a few free agents left that would upgrade our outfield quite a bit; Carlos Beltran, Yoenis Cespedes, and (to a lesser extent) Coco Crisp. A good trade option would be Gerardo Parra, who with the recent signing of Jason Kubel, is not likely to be an everyday player in Arizona, but looks like a good young player who can get on base, steal some bases, and play tremendous defense in left field. I truly believe, however, that Dave Dombrowski is going to go after Cespedes hard once he declares free agency, which looks to be happening in early January. He has truly been a five tool player over his career, and would give the Tigers a boost in just about every needed category. He will likely cost quite a bit, and he is obviously unproven in the big leagues, but just the chance to get an all-star five tool player in his prime without losing any prospects in return would be worth the risk.
The Tigers in my mind still need to sign or trade for a fifth starter to be able to compete this year. While they could go with a combination of their young guys (Wilk, Below, Turner, Smyly) at the fifth spot, many of them could use some more time in the minors, especially Turner and Smyly. The Tigers got lucky last year in their health to their starting pitchers. That is unlikely to happen again, and depth at this spot is extremely important. Look for the Tigers to sign a lower-tier lefty, such as Paul Maholm, Joe Saunders, or Jeff Francis.
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