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Jhonny Peralta next on deck for Tigers, Dombrowski?

One statement Tigers CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski made that's worth noting was that he's hopeful the team will come to an agreement with 3B/SS Jhonny Peralta soon.

During the press conference (viewable at Fox Sports Detroit's website), Dombrowski said:

"I think that if we can get Jhonny Peralta ... back, you talk about having Brandon and Jhonny on that side of the infield. You talk about two real quality players overall. Brandon's defense and his range would complement Jhonny's ... average type range at shortstop with good hands. But with Brandon's defense over there it would be a good complement to one another, and you also get some offense from those two spots.

If's a good start for us then all of a sudden if you get that situation done, and we've got Cabrera at first and we know we're going to stick to the young guys (Will Rhymes and Scott Sizemore) at second base competing with Carlos Guillen depending on his health, all of a sudden you're saying the infield is pretty well set. Your catcher spot, we've talked about Alex (Avila) being our main guy and trying to supplment him. All of a sudden you fill a lot of holes and you start to focus in on some of your other needs, which we'll start to do after the World Series."

Peralta batting line may not be real pretty, but he hits well enough for a shortstop. He had a .249 batting average, a .311 on-base percentage and .392 slugging average. He hit 15 home runs, two years after hitting 23 and one year after hitting 11.

If Detroit could somehow be sure it's getting the 2008 Peralta, the Tigers would be starting off in a very good place. One concern, however, is that his lifetime OPS at Comerica Park is a low .644 with six home runs in 353 plate appearances. After being traded to the Tigers, he hit just one home run at Comerica Park.

His defense, as Dombrowski tactfully said, is below average at shortstop, a position the Indians concluded he was not suitable for, so having Inge nearby would certainly be a benefit.

Given the state of the free agent market for shortstops, the Tigers may feel Peralta is their best bet. They could choose to exercise his $7.25 million option, or decline at a for a $250k. Given the Tigers did not immediately choose to use the option, they are likely trying to find a more favorable price.

There are no real good answers for shortstop. Both extending Peralta's time in Detroit and trying to fill the position through other avenues have risks. The front office may want to simplify things by signing Peralta and turning their eyes to the corner outfield and designated hitter spots, but I hope they do so only after exhaustively concluding he is, in fact, the best option at shortstop going forward. The decision certainly isn't going to make or break the 2011 season.

But it will take more than a few cosmetic changes to the team that finished the 2010 season if the Tigers are to truly compete with the Twins and White Sox for the division in 2011.