Let's be honest. This team is not as good offensivly as it was a year ago. Subtracting Prince Fielder was a big blow to the team. With losing him you need to replace 25 homers and 100 RBI's, not to mention the protection (if you believe in it) that he gave Miguel Cabrera. At this point there are only a couple of options on the market. I would like to take a look at a couple of names.
Nelson Cruz: Background: Cruz will be 33 on Opening Day and will turn 34 on July 1. A native of the Dominican Republic, he has been one of the better offensive players for Texas since coming up to the majors for good in 2009.
Pros: As previously stated, the man can hit. He has averaged 27 home runs and just over 81 RBI's per year since 2009. He also gets on base at a decent pace with a career .327 OBP. His slugging percentage is also very impressive at a mark of .495, bringing his career OPS to a solid .822.
Cons: There are two big, glaring problems with Cruz. There is his PED suspension frim last year as well as his history with injuries. Cruz has only played in more than 128 games once in his career when he played in 158 back in 2012. Then you look at his pricetag. Cruz will probably command $10MM-$14MM per year ove the life of a contract that I expect to be 3-4 years. That is quite a bit for a guy who is often injured. My overall oppinion (Like anybody cares): I would not mind Cruz. The Tigers have put themselves in a position where they cannot afford to be picky. They need a bat and badly. Cruz could supply some much needed pop while giving some protection to Cabrera. I probably would not be willing to go above $36MM over three years, however. If anyone is crazy enough to pay more, they can have him.
Jose Bautista: Background: Another native of the Dominican, the 33 year old Bautista spent many years as a role player before having an incredible breakout season with the Blue Jays in 2010, when he hit 54 home runs.
Pros: Since 2010, Bautista has been one of the better hitters in all of baseball, while averaging a home run in ever 3.4 games. He has gotten on base at an incredible .385 clip since his breakout year. His OPS since 2010 would also be very nice to add. As it sits, his OPS is .562 in that four year span.
Cons: Again we look at injuries. He has only played in 92 and 118 games the past two years, respectfully. Then, much like with Cruz, cost will be a problem. While this production could be had for only about $14MM per year, the price in prospects may be out of reach for Detroit. The conversation would start at Nick Castellanos and probably include two of Robbie Ray, Jake Thompson, and Jonathon Crawford. That is quite a price to pay. But is it worth it? My overall oppinion (Like any of you care): I like Bautista. But I am not sure how realistic of an idea this is. The price would be hefty and I am not even sure that Toronto is ready to ship him out of town, yet. If he could be had, I would probably jump on it, as he would be a very good bat to have, but I would jump hesitantly. If we traded Castellanos for him, you would probably see him move to third base, where he has experience.
Then you have another option. You can sit where you are and hope things work out. If they are not, then you could see what is available in July. Victor Martinez is in no way a bad hitter is most likely capable of protecting Cabrera like he did in 2011 when Cabrera hit a career high .344. But you have to wonder if there is something else out there.