The first day of the 2014 Winter Meetings was a relatively quiet one for the Detroit Tigers. There were no splashy trades, and there was a complete lack of big-named free agent players signed to the team. The only sound coming from President and General Manager Dave Dombrowski's camp was crickets, along with a reiteration of where the Tigers stand. They're "comfortable" with what they have, but if the right move comes along they'll make it.
It appears that the Tigers are in no hurry to spend. With the exception of signing designated hitter Victor Martinez, and flipping Robbie Ray and minor league infielder Domingo Leyba to the Diamondbacks (in a three-team trade with the Yankees for Shane Greene), the Tigers haven't made any significant moves. With the free agent market waiting for Jon Lester to sign with a team (reports are that Lester will make a decision within a day or two), moves have been sparse anyway, but the Tigers have been particularly quiet.
"Got started a little later than we normally would," Dombrowski told reporters as the day came to a close, adding that didn't mean things would stay that way.
In the meantime though, Dombrowski and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus updated reporters about where the team stands health-wise, just how "comfortable" they are with the bullpen and outfield situations, and where they go from here.
Dombrowski wouldn't give away any details, saying that he hasn't had any "face-to-face meetings" with any free agents yet. However, former Tiger and now free agent outfielder, Andy Dirks, has drawn interest from several teams and is fully healthy, according to his agent. The Tigers said they would be open bringing Dirks back to the team. Of course, the price would have to be right for the Tigers, but never say never.
Not lost in the shuffle are the constant outfield and bullpen concerns, despite a significant reworking in both areas. Dombrowski said the Tigers are fine with how both areas are currently constructed, though if the right call came through they would make the move. Again, money will play a factor here. Every team has its flaws no matter how an organization attempts to perfectly construct one, so Dombrowski is using the cards he currently holds.
Hernan Perez, currently playing Winter Ball with the Aguilas del Zulia in his native country of Venezuela, is getting time in, in the outfield to increase his flexibility. Meanwhile, Dombrowski confirmed that Anthony Gose, recently acquired from the Blue Jays, will remain the starting centerfielder.
"We're counting on Gose being our centerfielder," Dombrowski said. "That's why we got him."
The Tigers believe that while Gose, who has little-to-no bat power, has the chance to be able to make an adjustment at the plate. However, Dombrowski did leave the door open for a platoon situation if Gose isn't up to the task. For now though, it appears the outfield is set with Rajai Davis and J.D. Martinez occupying the corner positions.
While that goes on in the outfield, the bullpen could still use some work. Again, however, unless the right move comes along, Dombrowski will in all likelihood stick with internal options. Even with the uncertainties though, Dombrowski confirmed Joakim Soria will have a defined role in 2015 (likely the eighth inning), along with Bruce Rondon, who will likely pick up the seventh.
"I'm not anticipating having to rush out there and do anything large for the bullpen," Dombrowski said last week. "I think it's more a matter that we'll listen and talk to people."
Dombrowski also remarked that he had several rival GMs tell him they had "wished" the Tigers hadn't retained Soria for the 2015 season, which sets off the right kind of bells for the Tigers. While Tigers fans hadn't seen Soria much since his arrival to Detroit (partly due to a month-long injury), Ausmus is confident that in 2015 Soria will be the reliever they had hoped to see in 2014.
That won't preclude Dombrowski from making a trade or signing a player if he feels it will be a good fit for the team. Despite the fact that it's just the first day of the Winter Meetings, Dombrowski said he's had more discussions regarding trades than in the past.
Included in those discussions were the Red Sox regarding Yoenis Cespedes in exchange for Rick Porcello, though the talks dissolved when the Tigers felt there wasn't anything of significance there. That seems to be the general case from anyone interested in the starter. In all likelihood it's because no one has offered enough in exchange for Porcello that would make a trade worthwhile for the Tigers.
Amid all the trade rumors and status-quo reiterations regarding the team, the Tigers said that shortstop Jose Iglesias is doing well and has engaged in every baseball activity except sprinting on hard ground. That will be the final, and most important challenge for the 24-year-old in his rehabilitation.
Iglesias is still anticipated to be ready for Spring Training, however, and unless something happens to change that, he will report to Lakeland, Fla with the rest of the team in a couple of months. While Iglesias progresses, Miguel Cabrera's ankle also appears to be improving, but the Tigers won't comment until they receive an official medical update in January.