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SB Nation Winter Meetings Simulation: Tigers finish up ready to compete in 2014

The Fake Detroit Tigers won't have the same starting rotation as the 2013 Tigers did, but they should be runaway favorites in the AL Central.

Marc Serota

All week, the baseball blogs of SB Nation have been participating in a network-wide simulation of the MLB GM winter meetings. We provided an update earlier this week about the Fake Tigers' roster, but a lot has happened since Wednesday morning. Both j_the_man and I have been hard at work retooling the roster and we're pretty pleased with the results. Check out the madness in this thread for other transactions.

Note: None of these transactions for the Tigers are real, unless reported elsewhere on this site.


The action developed slowly at first, but we were able to lock up a couple of our free agents by Tuesday evening. Here is a summary of the transactions that happened up through the previous update.

  • Exercised Jose Veras' $3.25 million option.
  • Non-tendered Don Kelly and Phil Coke.
  • Hired manager Brad Ausmus
  • Re-signed Omar Infante for $30 million over three years
  • Re-signed Joaquin Benoit for $16 million over two years
  • Signed LHP Eric O'Flaherty for $5 million over two years

With the roster largely set in place for 2013, I was able to work on offloading some payroll and continuing to upgrade the bullpen.

11/6/13, 12:13 PM - Detroit trades P Rick Porcello and P Luke Putkonen to Colorado for P Rex Brothers and OF Charlie Blackmon

Of the three arbitration-eligible pitchers on the roster, Porcello drew far more interest from rival GMs than either Doug Fister or Max Scherzer. I don't want to sort back through my email to name all of the teams that inquired about Kid Rick, but the Rockies won the Porcello sweepstakes with an offer that looks subpar on paper. Looking deeper, the deal frees up almost $9 million* in payroll for the 2014 season. Drew Smyly, making the major league minimum, replaces Porcello in the rotation. Brothers, a lefty, replaces Smyly in the bullpen. Blackmon is a solid left-handed fourth outfielder who makes Andy Dirks expendable.

11/6/13, 12:42 PM - Detroit signs P Brian Duensing

The left-handed Duensing was non-tendered by the Fake Minnesota Twins after a subpar 2013 season. With an estimated salary of around $2 million, it was a savvy move by the Fake Twins' GM. However, before he was able to look at Duensing's platoon splits and recoup his loss, j_the_man swooped in for the kill. Duensing owns lefties, holding them to a .600 OPS in his career. He's able to serve as both a LOOGY or long reliever, and will do so at a cool $1 million... if this were real, that is.

11/6/13, 1:10 PM - Detroit re-signs IF/OF Don Kelly

Under the new regime, the Fake Tigers' manager will understand that Kelly is meant to be a utility player and defensive replacement. He's a valuable asset to have given his versatility, and the fact that he is making $750,000 in this sim -- $150,000 less than he did in 2013 -- is icing on the cake.

And then he donated his entire salary (and the shirt off his back) to charity.

11/7/13, 9:53 PM - Detroit re-signs P Phil Coke to a minor league contract

When I non-tendered Phil Coke, I hoped that he would go untouched until the tail end of the simulation. Despite his struggles in 2013, Coke is a talented pitcher who can be a valuable asset out of the bullpen. This is a move that I hope the Tigers make in real life, as I think that Coke can still be a solid reliever at the big league level. However, he is estimated to make $2.1 million next season if offered arbitration, which is far too much money for a reliever who struggled as mightily as he did last year.

11/7/13, 10:41 PM - Detroit signs P Grant Balfour

Three years, $15 million. If Dave Dombrowski can pull this deal in real life, we should all stop what we're doing and worship the ground he walks on. Sure, the bullpen is already beyond full, but whatever. Also, Balfour's salary in this sim is lower than Brian Wilson's.

Rumor central

The previous rumors that Shin-Soo Choo was set to receive crazy money were true. Fake Choo signed a seven year, $137 million deal with the New York Mets. Curtis Granderson did nearly as well for himself, signing a $68 million deal with the Fake Cincinnati Reds. Free agency was not the place to find an outfielder in this simulation.

The Fake Tigers were shopping Andy Dirks to "multiple AL West teams" according to sources. However, talks fizzled early on. Also, Fake Billy Beane needs to check his email more often.


According to the arbitration estimates provided by MLB Trade Rumors, the 2014 Fake Tigers' payroll checks in at a cool $174.6 million. However, with $40 million set to come off the hypothetical, the Fake Tigers have the flexibility needed to stay competitive beyond the 2014 season. Also, I didn't make a complete mess of the rotation this year, which is cool. And this bullpen is loaded.

Going forward, I would continue to pursue a trade for Andy Dirks. A prospect with high upside would be an ideal return for Dirks, who is now arbitration eligible for the next four years. Blackmon might not be quite as good as Dirks outside the thin air of Coors Field -- his home/road splits are pretty abysmal so far -- but he's a cheap fourth outfielder who doesn't hit arbitration for two more years. Moving Smyly to the rotation to replace Porcello is a lateral move in my eyes, and the difference in salaries almost turns it into an upgrade. In real life, Brothers will probably be the Rockies' closer, and he's under club control for four more seasons.

Position Player 2014 Salary 2013 fWAR
C Alex Avila $3,700,000 0.6
C Bryan Holaday $500,000 0.2
1B Prince Fielder $24,000,000 2.2
2B Omar Infante $10,000,000 3.1
SS Jose Iglesias $3,000,000* 1.8
3B Miguel Cabrera $22,000,000 7.6
OF Austin Jackson $5,300,000 3.1
OF Torii Hunter $12,000,000 2.5
OF Andy Dirks $1,700,000 1.7
OF Charlie Blackmon $500,000 0.8
OF Don Kelly $750,000 0.0
IF Hernan Perez $500,000 -0.6
DH Victor Martinez $12,000,000 0.9
SP Justin Verlander $20,000,000 5.2
SP Max Scherzer $13,600,000 6.4
SP Anibal Sanchez $15,000,000 6.2
SP Doug Fister $6,900,000 4.6
SP Drew Smyly $500,000 1.9
RP Joaquin Benoit $8,000,000 1.6
RP Grant Balfour $5,000,000 0.6
RP Rex Brothers $500,000 1.1
RP Eric O'Flaherty $2,500,000 -0.1
RP Brian Duensing $1,000,000 0.8
RP Jose Veras $3,250,000 0.7
RP Bruce Rondon $500,000 0.4

*Denotes Patrick's estimate for Iglesias' salary. Not sure where he got it from.

What do you think? Should I be expecting a phone call when Dave Dombrowski takes the commissioner job? Or is this the worst roster ever created?

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