MLB Trade Rumors publishes a list of predictions for the top 50 free agents in major league baseball around this timeevery year. This year's predictions bring bad news for the Tigers if they were to come to fruition.
The Tigers have arguably the best pitcher and the best hitter among the 2015 free agent class, with Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez both eligible for free agency. Scherzer has already turned down a lucrative offer to remain with the team, so losing him would not be a big shock. Re-signing Martinez is expected to be a top priority for Dave Dombrowski this offseason.
The predictions call for Scherzer to sign with the New York Yankees and Martinez to sign with the division rival Chicago White Sox. The forecast calls for former Tigers' left handed pitcher Andrew Miller to sign with Detroit to shore up their beleaguered bullpen. Torii Hunter is predicted to sign with the Texas Rangers.
Before freaking out at the thought of the Tigers losing Scherzer, Hunter, and Martinez and only signing Miller, consider the fact that these are just predictions. This is mainly a fun exercise, and chances are that over 70 percent of them will turn out to be incorrect. The best forecasts among MBLTR writers have only come up with 13 out of 50 correct predictions over the past two seasons. Author Tim Dierkes also says that each player is evaluated independently.
Please note that I’ve given up on trying to create a scenario where all 50 signings fit together, so you’ll see some redundant picks where multiple players are listed for a team that could only sign one of them. I looked at each player individually and made a pick.
Last year's predictions had the Tigers signing Shin-Soo Choo, retaining Omar Infante, and signing Joe Nathan. MLBTR runs a contest for baseball fans to make predictions, and the contest winner last season had 13 correct forecasts. Scherzer is listed as the top free agent on the list, with Martinez at number six, and Hunter 33rd.
Scherzer going to the Yankees is certainly a possibility, especially if Spring Training is approaching without the Bombers having adequately addressed their rotation concerns. However, signing Scherzer would pretty much blow any chance they had of getting under the luxury tax threshold and they would be hit with a 50 percent tax on every dollar they spent on Scherzer's average annual value of his contract for the next two seasons.
The mere thought of Victor Martinez in a White Sox outfit may be sickening to Tigers' fans, but the Sox are said to be very interested in signing him, even if it takes a lucrative four year contract. Losing Martinez could send the Tigersphere into a full on panic, and somewhat justifiably so. The idea of losing Hunter and Martinez from the lineup, and Scherzer from the rotation, while only signing Miller, is not an appealing thought.
MLBTR does not forecast contract terms, such as salary of length of the free agent contracts, but Fangraphs has a crowd sourcing forecast for the top free agent players. The average predictions, which are admittedly often lower than the actual terms agreed to, show Scherzer getting $168 million for seven years. He is also the top rated free agent overall on Fangraphs' list.
Martinez ranks ninth on Fangraphs list, with a projected contract of three years and $45 million. Hunter is forecast at one year for $10 million, while Andrew Miller polled an average value of $24 million for three seasons.
What are your predictions for the Tigers' in the free agent market this offseason?