With Max Scherzer's departure to the Washington Nationals now official -- we're talking pen-to-paper official -- the Tigers are running out of chances to bolster their rotation heading into the 2015 season. Dave Dombrowski has indicated that the club is happy with their current group of starters, but James Shields and various trade targets loom large over the baseball landscape. BYB's best and brightest sat down to discuss what the Tigers should do...
...but we couldn't get a hold of that conversation. Instead, Rob, Cameron, and Fielder's Choice talked about what the Tigers have planned for 2015 and beyond.
Rob: I'm starting to wonder if Dave Dombrowski's entire plan when trading for David Price was to sign a free agent starter in 2016. There is a huge crop coming up.
Fielder's Choice: Porcelloporcelloporcelloporcelloporcelloporcelloporcelloporcello
Cameron: Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello are all good ones, but I think Rick will be pricey because of his youth. Zack Grienke is the guy I want, assuming he opts out of his contract.
Rob: There's also Price, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo, and Jhoulys Chacin. That's a lot of dudes.
Cameron: Extend Price, and then sign one of those other guys. The only problem is I don't want the lack of depth in the starting rotation to make 2015 a lost season.
Rob: Yeah, it's a bit scary. I think the Tigers will sign one free agent then give the fifth spot to one of the kids. That's Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, a free agent, Shane Greene, and a farmhand as the 2016 rotation. And if Greene's any good? Hoo boy.
Cameron: I guess I just always try to be a little pessimistic about these things. Do I love the Shane Greene acquisition? Yes. Alfredo Simon is the stop-gap number five starter, and if either him or Greene blows, well, our top prospects are always expendable for someone that's a free agent at the end of next season.
Rob: How bad is "blows" though? If Simon gives you 180 innings with a 4.50 ERA, that's not a bad fifth starter. The key is Verlander being Verlander again, not getting an above average performance from those guys.
FC: I think Porcello will be undervalued. Baseball doesn't appreciate the age as much as we do. I guess a lot will depend on how he does this year.
The question for me is whether Porcello gets seven years, just because that's what everyone gets, or if he gets 10 because he's so young. If he comes on a seven-year deal, that's about the lowest risk "huge" free agent signing ever. Or if he goes back to a 4.50 ERA this year, does he even get five years? I would also settle for Zimmermann, Price, or Cueto.
Rob: I'd take anyone I listed above. I'm intrigued by Chacin outside of Coors. And I think Leake is the Rick Porcello that nobody has heard of.
Cameron: Leake could be had for cheap, then you could splurge on one of the guys you mentioned.
FC: I'd take 'em all, I just think Porcello will be considered second tier when, all things considered, he's as likely as anyone to produce. Health and youth.
Rob: Cam, you mentioned the 2015 rotation, who do we even get at this point? James Shields?
Cameron: I was talking about the middle of the year if Simon/Greene tank and you need to trade for a starting pitcher. That means you're looking into a guy who's probably a free agent at the end of 2015, and who's team is most likely out of playoff contention.
FC: Who else is left? Ryan Vogelsong? They don't have the cash anyway. It's Simon and Greene, barring a trade.
Cameron: They have the cash if they want to spend it. It's Shields or bust for remaining free agent starting pitchers.
Photo credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Cameron: After giving this some thought, I think the Tigers should take the rotation they have into the season. If it goes awry, then they can trade for someone. Leake, Cueto, and possibly Gallardo will all be available at the deadline.
FC: Actions speak volumes, and apart from Victor Martinez, the Tigers have been shopping the bargain bin all winter.
Cameron: Even Fister or Zimmermann could be available mid-season.
Rob: We'll see about Cueto, Cincinnati might look to get the compensatory draft pick for him instead. Although the Red Sox did get Yoenis Cespedes (and by extension, Porcello) for Jon Lester's expiring deal.
FC: Yeah, based on what Lester fetched, a rental shouldn't cost that much. Although, based on what Price fetched - he came with triple the control, but cost a ton more.
Which of those teams with expiring starters are going to be sellers at the deadline though? Not the Nationals, barring an act of God.
Rob: The Rangers are tough to predict. They had EVERYONE hurt last year.
FC: That really was an act of God.
Rob: Alright, if you could choose one guy out of the 2016 list to sign, who would it be and what's the contract? Or you can pick Shields now if you want I guess.
FC: Price, one year for $1 million. Oh, we're supposed to be realistic?
Cameron: David Price, 7 years, $220 million with $70 million deferred to be distributed in the seven years after the contract is up. I'm all about deferments now that one player did it. I think it's all the rage.
Then trade Anibal Sanchez and sign Leake for 4 years, $60 million. Boom.
FC: Price is clearly the best guy available, and Cameron's contract is reasonable. So I'm game for that. But I still think Porcello will give the best bang for the buck. I guess it's impossible to know right now what the market for him will be. If Rick is going for seven years and $140 million? I'd probably take that over Price.
Rob: I'd take Zimmermann for that deal or a hair more. Give me Zimmermann on a Jon Lester contract.
Cameron: The good thing about the surplus in the market next year is that I don't think everyone is going to be out there asking for crazy-high contracts.
Rob: I don't necessarily agree with that. More free agents means more teams needing pitchers. And all of that advertising money is still rolling in. But the choices are better.
Cameron: That is also true. That's why I think locking down the absolute best (Price) is worth it. Honestly, it's not like settling for Zimmermann is bad. Isn't Fister a free agent too?
Cameron: Either sign Price, or sign Zimmermann and Fister or Leake.
FC: Fister is going to be 32 in 2016. I love him, but they need to get younger.
Rob: That's why I want one of Zimmermann, Porcello, Leake, or Chacin. All will be 29 or younger on Opening Day 2016.
Kurt: So you guys realize you've got a good post idea, right?