It has been a VERY interesting offseason that is for sure.
Gone are the likes of Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, Doug Fister, Bryan Pena, Jose Veras and more than likely Omar Infante and Joaquin Benoit. Coming in we have Ian Kinsler, Joe Nathan, Ian Krol and Steve Lombardozzi so far.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that we've lost more than we've gained. Kinsler and Infante are a wash as far as I'm concerned. Both are steady players who do their job notably. Kinsler has a little more speed and slightly better D, but let's call it a wash. Nathan is a clear upgrade over Benoit. Of course, Nathan is 39 and 2 years removed from Tommy John surgery, but the body of work is noteworthy and last season was one of his best.
Prince will be missed, but that albatross of a contract was a ticking time bomb. Maybe he will be David Ortiz and hit into his mid 30's or maybe he will be Mo Vaughan. Only time will tell. Either way Miguel playing third more than likely contributed to his injury and I'd rather invest long term in the back-to-back MVP despite the same weight issues as a red flag. Pick your poison. Miguel beats Prince all day long.
Peralta making 15M a year is laughable. Thank god the Tigers didn't bite.
The Doug Fister trade stands as the most odd move of DD's tenure. I remember people were upset over the Granderson trade, but that still was clearly a net gain for Detroit. We had a prized positional prospect (which we never seem to have) and a cost controlled starting pitcher with a high ceiling. Granderson and Edwin Jackson were showing serious holes in their game and DD sold high before it was too late. A masterstroke. This trade is still a head scratcher. Fister was one of the most reliable starters in the bigs and the return was underwhelming. The obvious motivation was dollars. How else can you explain it? I'm certain they could've found a better haul somewhere else, but it would've been expensive. Luke Gregorson would have been a nice pickup, but he was traded for Seth Smith. Who is more valuable Doug Fister or Seth Smith? I saw that Washington may float Storen or Clippard out there. Would we have wanted high priced relievers in exchange for Fister? No. Because it didn't fit the budget. Therefore, the deal has to be thought of as the price of doing business. He got a lefty reliever and a lefty starter that might be Drew Smyly in two years plus a scrappy infielder. At least it's something. And it's all cost controlled. Not a great trade, but I understand the logic. Plus, Fister is definitely the #4 starter on the team. Probably one of the best #4's in the game, but a core of Verlander/Scherzer/Sanchez could be a force for years to come if we can lock up Max. Obviously, Max's upcoming free agency was a consideration here as well.
Alas, after all the wheeling and dealing, the payroll is still the fifth highest in baseball making a big free agent signing unlikely. We are still lacking in LF and the bullpen is not promising.
Do we sign Shin-Soo Choo? Not unless you want to see Miggy and/or Max go bye-bye. Beltran could've been a good short term sign, but I don't think the Tigers are interested in 37 year old outfielders, post season heroics aside. What does that leave? More than likely an inexpensive platoon for Andy Dirks. Rajai Davis, Michael Morse or Franklin Guitierrez come to mind. They could explore trades, but honestly, who do we have left to trade? I feel like Fister/Porcello was our best bullet. You could trade Austin Jackson, but now you're down a CF too. Castellanos isn't going anywhere and I think trading someone like James McCann would be a mistake as Avila is not a lock (Al Avila aside).
On the bullpen front, they could sign any number of available relievers. I feel like at least one right handed veteran is needed. I've heard that they're shifting Casey Crosby to the pen, so perhaps he can replace Coke if he can't find it again. Jesse Crain could make sense. I think declining Jose Veras option was a mistake, but like Mitch Williams before him, it's hard to come back to the same team after giving up a post-season home run of that magnitude. Ditto Benoit.
All in all, the Tigers are doing what they have to do to keep their core intact, while giving them flexibility for the future. I applaud the job DD is doing. It's not easy putting a winner on the field year in and year out. The Tigers are a very well ran organization (weak minor league system notwithstanding).
My prognosis is sign a veteran right handed reliever, sign and right handed LF to platoon with Dirks and pray. Avoid Choo and Nelson Cruz. We cannot afford to lose draft picks and we certainly can't afford to had another 8 figure pay day to an undeserving player. Honestly, this free agent market is simply bananas. The Tigers can win the Central again with their excellent staff, improved defense and speed, lights out closer and a healthy Miguel Cabrera. Once your in the postseason, it's anyone's game.