For all of those upset by the Iglesias/Romine/Gonzalez situation, fear not.
Even though the regular season officially opens tomorrow, the real season, hopefully, will not start for the Tigers until June 8th.
Now, hindsight is 20/20. WIth that caveat, many people agree (myself included) that the Tigers should have extended both Peralta and Infante the qualifying offer. Even if they had accepted (which no player EVER has), they would be relative bargains at 1 year and $14.1 million. Peralta would have been better than any option we have available at shortstop. Infante becomes the rich man's Don Kelly. If both had declined (as they most likely would have), we would have potentially recouped multiple strong picks in next year's amateur draft.
Oh, but that ship has since sailed. We can now only make the best of the situation that is at hand.
Shortstop is a disgrace. We will be trotting out replacement level players in the 9-hole for the better part of a season. Despite strong springs, they essentially mean nothing. Spring training numbers are a small sample size against inferior competition. Anyone remember Chris Shelton? He was the best hitter in baseball for 13 games.
Eugenio Saurez is promising, but has only topped out at AA Erie. The 22 year old shortstop needs a little more time, especially with the bat. Granted, most projection systems only pegged Jose Iglesias for 1-2 WAR over the course of the season, but that's 1-2 more than we're currently going to generate.
Enter June 8th. Enter Stephen Drew. You see, there is a huge problem with the MLB free agent system. It is severely flawed. If a free agent rejects the qualifying offer, the team that signs him must forfeit their 1st round pick the following year (unless it is in the top 15, then it moves to the 2nd round pick). BUT, teams are only minimally penalized for signing multiple free agents. For example, this is why the Orioles signed Nelson Cruz. They had already forefeited their first rounder to sign Ubaldo Jimenez, so it only cost them a second rounder to sign Cruz. The same goes for the Yankees who went bananas (as per usual) this offseason by signing. Even though the Bronx Bombers signed 3 marquee free agents, they also let 2 free agents go (Cano and Granderson). Thus, by signing McCann, Ellsbury, and Beltran, they really only lose their first round pick. (see full MLB draft order here) Props to Mr. Cashman.
Now, above average, but not elite, free agents scare off teams. These players are not deemed "worthy" of sacrificing a draft pick, but are still appealing for MLB teams. These players are Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew. The loophole: After the June amateur draft, any player who did not sign the qualifying offer can sign with any team without draft pick compensation.
Enter June 8th. Enter Stephen Drew. It can't hurt that his agent is Scott Boras who has a known relationship with Mike Illitch. It also can't hurt that Drew has stated he would sign a 1 year contract with the Tigers. Now, Drew is an average defender and very competent against RHP (Career wRC+ of 105 against RHP vs. 74 against LHP). Should he sign with Detroit, he would still likely platoon at shortstop with the aforementioned dynamic duo of Romine/Gonzalez.
Ultimately, what I hope is that Saurez will be ready by then and he and Drew will platoon at SS from June-August. Saurez posted a healthy .280/.351/.408 line against LHP in Erie last year.