The Tigers have had an interesting offseason and have basically overturned the entire team. One area that they could still address is bullpen. I wanted to take a look at some of the remaining free agents that could be had.
Andrew Bailey: Bailey won the Rookie of the Year award back in 2009 when he had an incredible season with the Athletics where he posted an ERA of 1.84 and an xFIP of 3.20. His follow up season was almost equally as impressive when he posted an ERA of 1.43 and an xFIP of 3.63. Since those years, Bailey has struggled with injury and inconsistency. Last season he had a season that some may consider unlucky. In 30 games with the Red Sox, he managed a 3.20 xFIP while having a K/9 of 12.24. Yet, while these numbers are impressive, they did not translate to a great performance. Bailey posted a 3.77 ERA and a BABIP about .20 points higher than his career average. Bailey could be a great buy low option with the potential to be a great bullpen piece. That being said, there is no guarantee that he can turn it around completely. While his xFIP was impressive, his walk rate was elevated at 3.77 per nine innings and a home run rate of 2.20 per nine innings. Both of which are much higher than his career average. If he can get those numbers back down, he could be one of the best bullpen arms in baseball.
Joel Hanrahan: Another Red Sox closer in 2013, Hanrahan spent a majority of the year on the DL with an elbow injury. This ultimately required Tommy John Surgery and will keep him from being 100% until late March, which could cause him to miss part of the beginning of the season while he continues rehabbing in extended Spring Training. Before being traded to Boston, Hanrahan was one of the better closers in Pittsburgh. In 2010 and 2011, he posted xFIP's below 3.00. He saw his number elevate in 2012, and he was not very effective in just nine games with the Sox in 2013. However, with a career K/9 approaching 10, he has a chance to be a one of the top setup men in baseball.
Jesse Crain: Crain had a career year that was cut short by injuries in 2013 with the White Sox and although he did not play, with the Rays. The big red flag with him is that he had shoulder problems in 2013. The good side to this, is that he may be willing to take a one year deal to prove that the shoulder is alright. In 2013, Crain posted an amazing 0.74 ERA with a FIP of 1.52. He gave up zero homers last year and has an impressive career HR/9 of 0.74. If he can duplicate his 2013 while staying healthy, Crain could be the bargain of the year.
Francisco Rodriguez: K-Rod was once one of the best closers in baseball and to this day, he still holds the record for most saves in a single season with 62 in 2008. Rodriguez spent 2013 in Milwaukee and Baltimore and had a solid year. In his age 31 season, he posted a 3.04 xFIP with an elevated BABIP. He was able to raise his K/9 from 9.0 to 10.44 in 2013, which keeps him sitting just shy of his career average. Personally, I am surprised that nobody has picked up Rodriguez. The one mark on his record is that he is not the best team player and has had an issue with the law, but if you look past that, he is one of the better relief options available.
Eric O'Flaherty: O'Flaherty has been part of the Braves rock solid bullpen since 2009. The good thing about O'Flaherty is that he is a proven lefty that can join Ian Kroll in the pen and relieve Phil Coke, as many fans want to do. The downside is that he has seen a rise in his xFIP, FIP, and ERA have risen over the past three years and his K/9 has fallen over that same time. This is highly concerning, and perhaps a reason to stay away. On the upside, if we could see O'Flaherty be what he was in 2012, he could be a solid option against left handers, who he held to a line of .143/.183/.238 in 2013.
Oliver Perez: Perez may have saved his career in 2012 coming out of the bullpen for the Mariners. Having struggled being a starter after starting off as an all star for the Mets, Perez put up a fantastic 2012 with an ERA of 2.12. In 2013, the ERA was not there, nor was a very impressive xFIP, but he did strike out batters at a rate of 12.57 per nine innings. That being said, his BB/9 also was inflated at a rate of 4.42. If he could get his control problems figured out, he could be a great lefty coming out of the pen.
So there you have it. Who would you pick?