By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After the Winter Meetings, it’s not uncommon for fans to ask “what’s next?” for their favorite baseball team.

The Tigers have made some nice free agent signings and some very nice trades for impressive players, most of whom we didn’t have on our “go get” list.

So what do you see coming on the horizon for the Tigers? More trades? More free agents?

Let’s talk about it.

Do you think the Tigers will pull off another significant trade before Spring Training?

Holly – The only way the Tigers will pull off a significant trade is if the expected market for some free agents doesn’t develop as originally thought and they get involved at the last minute. Or, perish the thought, if a current Tiger gets injured over the winter as when the Tigers ended up signing Prince Fielder.

But I don’t think that will happen especially after the head-scratching signing of a guy by the Cubs for $184 million/8 years with only 13 HRs and 60 RBIs last year. That automatically ratchets up every other free agent’s value, especially Yoenis Cespedes.

We’ve seen how Al Avila addressed starting pitching this year. His first footprint re how he’ll do business with contract length and salary.

Now, he’s traded for Maybin, who ironically, has similar stats to Jason Heyward at an absolute fraction of the price. If anything, the Tigers may go for an outfielder who is well-rounded and fits neatly into a Maybin/Gose-Collins/Martinez combination.

Tiger fans have gotten used to Dave Dombrowski’s big surprises but this is a new era now. Avila has shown that he is reluctant to give the big bucks and the long contracts most of these remaining free agents want.

Kurt – We always knew that Dave Dombrowski had a flair for the dramatic and constantly had us on the edge of our seat with some big signing or trade out of the blue. But he couldn’t do any of it on his own. As a GM, you can’t have that flair without the backing of an owner who doesn’t mind the big splash himself.

So just the presence of Ilitch alone still makes me think a trade is on the horizon, something out of the blue, something that involves one or two of our regulars.

Al has been strict with his shopping list for sure. And it’s been impressive the way he has gotten guys who could be described more as diamonds in the rough.

They aren’t names who stand out with the stars in baseball and really don’t move the needle for people who feel that if they haven’t heard of them, they aren’t any good.

But that may change with a surprise trade. Ilitch likes to put his stamp on this team with big unexpected news. Maybe Al just hasn’t gotten that call from Mike yet saying, “how do we get ….?”

Should the Tigers go after another big free agent contract this off-season?

Holly – If 14 years of one of the highest payrolls and no World Series isn’t enough proof, I don’t know what is. And over the past 20 years, studies show that the majority of World Series winners did not have one of baseball’s highest payrolls – with all but 2 winners since 2006 having less payroll than the Tigers.

So, no, they shouldn’t go after another big free agent. Another huge contract will re-create that vicious cycle Dave used when he was GM. Max out the payroll on a handful of players which results in lesser quality at other positions. Create other holes in the lineup and hamper the production of the stars as a result in which you paid a fortune to obtain.

In turn, you lose depth and flexibility and don’t have adequate reinforcements when players get injured. And because you still have needs, then you use your prospects as currency which depletes the farm system, the bench and the bullpen. Not to mention your future.

No, if anything, the Tigers need to consider how to address a contract extension for JD Martinez. Wouldn’t you rather have him stay on the team?

Kurt – If we are talking about my fantasy team, sure, but if we are talking about my Tigers, no I don’t think it would be wise. We have so many huge contracts that are tying us down. I can’t even fathom another one.

As luscious as it sounds to see Alex Gordon or Yoenis Cespedes roaming left field for the Tigers, I just cannot envision a scenario where it makes sense financially.

I think the Tigers are done with any more major free agency moves. Any additional signing will be a back page bench player addition.

If Mike Ilitch were to ask Al Avila if one big signing for the outfield is the final piece for a real run at the World Series, I am still not sure the answer would be, unequivocally, yes.

Al has to think about the monetary ramifications. And there are still just too many things that need to fall into place that involve current players who have continually fought injuries. Heck, the Tigers may not even need an Alex Gordon or Yoenis Cespedes if we just plain stay healthy.


  1. I can understand if Avila believes that a big-ticket free agent to play left field is too pricey. But then he better find a way to upgrade by trade. To head into the season with the current four outfielders is not to make a serious effort to compete, given that only one of them is good against left-handed pitching and two of them are terrible.


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