By: Kurt Snyder
Over the last couple years, there have been endless discussions and no shortage of articles written on the Tigers’ ‘window,’ and the closing of said window. Well, what would close the window and what would keep it open?
Many “experts” believe 2015 is it. They suggest, after this season, the purse strings get tighter, free agents won’t be signed and we will be left in 2016 with a team that will not contend for the division, much less a World Series.
So what do the Tigers need to do keep the air quality from getting stuffy? I believe it is reasonable to think that at least 2 of 3 key 2016 free agents will be leaving us after this season. Sadly, we need all 3. But remember the bills people.
The Tigers might say good-bye to Soria and Cespedes (reluctantly). But Price has to stay. The name on the “Scherzer” checkbook has been replaced with “Price.” I expect he will be pursued very aggressively. Illitch will not want him walking away. Even Cespedes if he performs, may find a place in Mike’s wallet.
Now, I know fans and the media have been lulled into thinking that we need stars from the top of the starting rotation to the bottom to win a title, mainly because they have been used to seeing it on this team. So far, that hasn’t worked, nor can you afford it for long. Watch what the Nationals do with their staff if they don’t win it this year.
But the Tigers will still need a top shelf #1 and Illitch will pay handsomely to keep the one he has.
As far as the next tier of unrestricted free agents?
Alex Avila goes; too expensive after this season and too much risk. It’s time for a fresh start with a promising youngster. We’ll see if James McCann can prove he is ready to be that guy.
Alfredo Simon stays; a valuable piece for this year and next, starting or relieving; a good, versatile guy to keep around, especially should Soria leave.
Rajai Davis stays because of speed and this team needs to keep as much of it around as possible. He can earn a new contract with another productive year. Given his age, should still be affordable.
These moves would leave the Tigers with a lineup that is lacking an impact outfielder again, assuming Cespedes isn’t resigned. Everyone seems to see Stephen Moya as a stud and that ’16 is his year to make the big club, which more than likely will mean the Tigers will trade him.
Sorry. Illitch likes established stars and Dombrowski likes to use his prospects as trade bait. No one is ever safe on that farm.
I left the bullpen last to talk about because, well, it always makes me nervous. I won’t go through every guy but hey, we know who’s gone (hold your applause), Joe Nathan. And Soria, is probably gone too after this season. So the logical choice for closer is Rondon, right? Nope, not ready to declare any major role for him until we see what he has this season. Expect another closer to arrive either by trade or free agency, maybe even one we’ve seen before (wink wink).
This all serves as a reminder for people worried about the “window”. Our owner is still Mike Illitch. And as long as he is here, nothing stops the train from the annual pursuit of a World Title. He will spend every last breath trying to win one.
What this club has been missing is balance. We have not had a good roster mix; strength in all areas. We’ve had top shelf strength in some and house booze in others.
Looking at the roster now, we appear to have more balance. I think this team has the makings of being quite good, if we can get some luck; an old friend that hasn’t exactly been hanging out with the Tigers the last few seasons. Untimely injuries have really hurt them.
So I leave you with a question? Do you still think the window is closing? If that answer is still yes, that’s your choice, but I plan to watch October Tiger baseball for the foreseeable future.