It has been seven years without a playoff appearance for the Detroit Tigers. There is hope though. After losing 114 games in 2019, they have improved each year and finished third in the American League Central this season. The trade for Tucker Barnhart is a good one. Reports have been that the Tigers are looking on working out an extension with the two-time Gold Glove winner.
The Tigers also just signed Eduardo Rodriguez to a solid five-year deal worth $70 million with an opt-out after year two. It is an excellent move to get the 28-year-old to head up a young staff. Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal don’t have to be the aces and can continue to develop at the major-league level. Detroit should also get Spencer Turnbull back for 2023, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
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The Tigers have plenty of flexibility as far as money goes. While they still have Miguel Cabrera on the books, his vesting option will likely not happen and he will retire after the 2023 season. Aside from Miggy, there aren’t any burdensome contracts so Detroit can certainly reset and try to make good decisions on who they want long-term. A selective multi-year deal or two on younger players would be wise. They should couple that with a few one-year deals for some veterans to allow the youngsters to play a bit and still be in the mix.
Keys to the Offseason
Don’t Go Crazy
The E-Rod signing was a good one. If they can land a young shortstop this year that would also be a big win for the Tigers. Aside from that, Detroit needs to fill spots with some cheaper options. They have the fourth-ranked prospect in Spencer Torkelson ready to join the big club along with Riley Greene possibly next year. It isn’t time for the Tigers to blow payroll on the hopes that they will win it all this year. Their window is 2023-2024, and they need to focus on that rather than overpaying or locking into a bad contract.
Even with Rodriguez in the mix, the Tigers could use another veteran starter. Turnbull will miss most, if not all, of 2022 and Matthew Boyd‘s future with the team is uncertain after flexor tendon surgery. Jose Urena and Wily Peralta are free agents which aren’t big losses. but Detroit still has to fill a spot in the rotation. A one or two-year deal for a fifth starter would be a good move.
Find a Middle Infielder
The combination of Harold Castro, Willi Castro, and Niko Goodrum played most of the games at second base and shortstop. They were the worst three fielders on the team with -29 DRS. The three of them weren’t great offensively either. The Tigers can’t hope to move this thing forward with inept defense and below-average offensive production from the middle of the infield. Detroit should go after one of the big free agent shortstops out there. Whether they will land one of them is yet to be seen, but it would go a long way to getting the Tigers back in contention in the AL Central.
Carlos Correa, 27, Shortstop
In his first year as manager of the Houston Astros, A.J. Hinch saw a 20-year-old Correa win the AL Rookie of the Year award. Two years later they were World Series champs. Now, Hinch is with Detroit and has them poised to be very good in a couple of years. The young shortstop is the best in the game and will be paid handsomely. Francisco Lindor signed a 10-year, $341 million contract. Correa will get around that number. The question is…do the Tigers pay it?
Steven Matz, 30, Starting Pitcher
Matz is coming off a season where he had 29 starts. He had 30 in 2018 and 2019. This is the type of starter the Tigers need. Matz has proven recently to be healthy and would fit nicely in a fourth or fifth starting rotation role. He strikes out almost a batter per inning and has decreased his walk percentage over the past few years. A two or three-year deal for about $24-$30 million total would be a good move.
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