Torii Hunter agreeing to terms fills one major need for the Tigers; a corner outfielder with pop who isn't allergic to glove leather and willing to sign a short-term deal.
But the off season is young, there are other moves to be made and players to sign. So what's next for the Tigers?
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports Tigers owner Mike Ilitch is wondering the same thing:
When the Tigers finished talking with Torii Hunter Mike Ilitch had a question.
"Where do we stand with [Anibal] Sanchez?" the Tigers owner asked his baseball decision-makers.
In other words, they still want him.
The Tigers committed $26 million of Ilitch's money to sign Hunter. They still have more available to spend, although they can't be sure it will be enough to keep Sanchez.
As the roster currently stands, with a handful arbitration raises and contractually scheduled raises to come, along with the inking of Hunter, Tigers are on track tor the largest payroll in their long and storied history; at least $140MM.
It will sky rocket even further north if the Tigers acquiesce to Anibal Sanchez's contract demands.
Knobler reports Sanchez's asking price is high, and only going up:
Sanchez has let some teams know he's looking for $90 million over six years, and told at least one team he wants $100 million over seven years.
If Sanchez returns, that's great. Though I would hope a contract would be something more reasonable than the $15MM a season Sanchez is currently angling. But reports are there won't be another high-profile signing for the starting rotation if Sanchez moves on to richer pastures. The Tigers are prepared to open 2013 with the same starting 5 we saw in April 2012: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly.
If not Sanchez, what other directions could the Tigers go?
Dave Dombrowski admitted in his season ending press conference the Tigers aren't convinced Andy Dirks is capable of taking over left field on a full-time basis. So acquiring another corner outfielder is not out of the question. Names such as Shane Victorino, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross and Scott Harrison have been tossed about and are still available on the open market.
To sign Josh Hamilton, the best pure hitter available in free agency, it will take at least $20MM a season. But Ilitch seems intent on spending the inheritance of his kids in order to win a World Series. As improbable as it may be, I'm not about say any one player, even the ever mercurial and uber-expensive Hamilton, is completely off the Tigers' radar.
Another possible area to target would be the bullpen. In a perfect world, Bruce Rondon takes the closer role and runs with it to a 30+ save season in 2013. But are the Tigers willing to hand the 9th inning over to a raw, if extremely talented, rookie? Do they go against convention and go with a bullpen by committee? Could the Tigers ultimately sign a closer? Dombrowski left his options open during the presser.
Teams are always on the prowl for additional bullpen arms, the Tigers are no different. If they do want to sign a veteran closer, some of the bigger name relievers available with back of the pen experience are Rafael Soriano, Ryan Madson and Matt Capps.
Don't forget, there's always the possibility of a trade. The Tigers have been connected to the Justin Upton rumors, reportedly doing their "due diligence." Knobler claims the Tigers may try to improve themselves by moving Jhonny Peralta.
The winter meetings are only 3 weeks away and we all know the Dombrowski and Ilitch are not afraid to quickly pull the trigger on a major deal. Again, with Ilitch's desperation to win a series before he's pinin' for the fjords, you can't discount the possibility they could make waves in Nashville.
Obviously, Hunter was plan A. Sanchez is apparently plan B. But what are plans C, D and E? Those may depend on the whims of an octogenarian chasing his white whale.