It's too early in the off-season to say for certain, but at the moment, it's looking like the Detroit Tigers are getting comfortable with the idea of starting next season with a platoon of Timo Perez and Marcus Thames in left field. (I'd love to see Ryan Raburn get some innings out there, as well.)
That also might be a decision borne of necessity, as the Tigers are faced with having to take whatever dollars were earmarked for left field and use them instead to replace Joel Zumaya in the bullpen. But even if Detroit doesn't get into the Geoff Jenkins business (and he seems to have completely fallen out of the Tigers' interest), a few other low-cost options might be available.
Soon after the Houston Astros traded Brad Lidge for center fielder Michael Bourn, it became quite apparent that there wasn't going to be a spot open for Luke Scott. Here's how ESPN.com's Keith Law sees the situation:
Dave Dombrowski could use that as a want-ad to send to his fellow general managers. This past season, Scott hit .255/.351/.504 in 369 at-bats, with 18 home runs and 64 RBI. He also drew 53 walks while striking out 95 times. Contract-wise, Scott was paid $382,000 this year, and would be under club control for another 3-4 seasons.
The Tigers were interested in trading for Scott last off-season, but the rumored deal fell through. (And as I wrote at the time, maybe that was for the best if Scott's brought his apparent preference for packing heat to Detroit.) One concern could be his frequent tendency to get injured, which Richard Justice cited as a likely reason he's fallen out of favor with the Astros.
Another possibility could be the return of a familiar face, one who probably never should've been traded from Detroit. Luis Gonzalez is looking for just one more gig, maybe a one or two-year tenure, to cap off his career, and reportedly wouldn't mind spending his early 40s in Comerica Park's outfield. He originally signed here to be sort of a stop-gap for Juan Encarnacion. So why not try it again, this time keeping a seat warm for Cameron Maybin?
In 464 at-bats with the Dodgers this past year, Gonzalez hit .278/.359/.433 with 15 home runs and 68 RBI. He also struck out only 56 times, while drawing 56 walks. As I commented at The Wayne Fontes Experience when Big Al wrote about this, I love the idea of Gonzalez being the left side of a left field platoon, as I think he'd bring more pop to the lineup than Timo can. Finishing his career where it should've blossomed could be a nice story.
And here's a fresh option hot out of the rumor oven: MLB Trade Rumors heard from a reader that the Cubs might be interested in trading Jacque Jones for Omar Infante. Not only would that help both teams trim some excess fat from their respective rosters, but Jones is on the last year of his contract (with a $5.5 million price tag), which makes him an excellent temporary fill-in.
In 2007, Jones hit .285/.335/.400 with five home runs and 66 RBI in 453 at-bats for the Cubs. The low home run total is kind of a surprise (and surely worth looking into), but in his three previous seasons, Jones hit at least 20 long balls, so hopefully, he could still provide the lefty thunder the Tigers need. And if I recall correctly from his days with the Twins, has one of the most picturesque left-handed swings you'll ever see.
UPDATE: The Jones-Infante deal looks like it's going to happen. The Free Press is reporting that a deal is close to being finalized, and could be announced as soon as today. Phil Rogers is corroborating the story at the Chicago Tribune and ESPN.com is running with it, as well. I can't be late on posting about a trade, if I write about it before it actually takes place, right?
(Thanks to Billfer for passing this along. He surely took pity on me for my agonizing over always been late with the breaking news.)