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Mailbag: What team needs Max Scherzer the most?

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Do the Tigers need Max Scherzer to win the World Series? What will J.D. Martinez do in 2015? Should we trust James McCann? These questions and more in this week's mailbag!

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After a long trek through the doldrums of winter, the Tigers finally did a thing! OK, so maybe signing Tom Gorzelanny isn't the blockbuster move that some were hoping for, but it's better than nothing, right? To finally break away from the holiday season, we dove into the deepest regions of our mailbag for a few different topics for the new year. Remember, you can send us questions on Facebook, on Twitter, or via email at bybtigers@gmail.com!

As odd as it seems, the New York Yankees are the team that needs Max Scherzer the most, simply because they are the furthest away from being a title contender. They have been resoundingly mediocre for the past couple seasons and their biggest additions so far this offseason are Andrew Miller, Nathan Eovaldi, and Alex Rodriguez. Don't get me wrong, I like what they have done, but they are no closer to winning a World Series than they were last year. With the rest of their division loading up around them, they look like a fourth place club unless they make a big move. Even Max probably wouldn't be enough.

If the Tigers sign him, I think they turn around and trade David Price, making it a lateral move for 2015. Signing Scherzer obviously extends their window past 2015, but at the cost of a few years in the 2019 to 2022 range. The thought of adding a mega Scherzer contract -- even something in the $160 million range -- is cringe-worthy, but so is the idea of losing Price to free agency and going into 2016 with Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and a lot of question marks. There is no right answer here.

I don't think the Tigers view Gorzelanny as a starter at this point in his career. He has only made 11 starts in the past three seasons, and 10 of those were for a Milwaukee Brewers club that gave Alfredo Figaro -- yes, that Alfredo Figaro -- five starts. Plus, Gorzelanny is still only about a year removed from having shoulder surgery. He only pitched 36 2/3 total innings last season. Asking him to go out and throw 120+ frames is a tall order in itself, let alone an actual starter's workload of 160-180 innings. Given his career numbers out of the pen, I think the Tigers would be wise to leave the starter's role to Simon and the prospects.

Speaking of those guys, I think Alfredo Simon will get a long leash on the fifth starter's job. He's the veteran and I think the team puts more stock into his All-Star first half from 2014 than we do. Plus, we still don't know what we're going to get out of Shane Greene. For all we know, the organization considers Simon the fourth starter with Greene being pushed by Kyle Lobstein and company. Pushing Simon to the bullpen should not be done unless it is absolutely necessary, especially since the team has already acquired a bajillion relievers this offseason. If he can start, he should.

Imagine for a moment the following hypothetical scenario. On December 11, 2014 you were granted veto power over all baseball related personnel decisions. Additionally, you were given the ability to know the outcome of Alfredo Simon’s 2015 season. Given the above scenario, what would the result of Simon’s season need to be (either as a starter or reliever) for you to not veto the trade?

-Stephen

If Simon were to exclusively work out of the bullpen, he would have to replicate what Dellin Betances did for the New York Yankees in 2014 for me to not veto this trade. Even the very best non-closer relievers in baseball are only worth a win or two per year. Betances was worth 3.2 rWAR last season, which is 0.1 WAR shy of the best non-closer total in the past decade. A stupidly dominant season.

As a starter, Simon has a little more wiggle room, but not much. He would have to be better than he was in 2014 (as a whole) for me to not wield the veto-hammer, which seems like a tall order. The BABIP and strand rates are red flags, and even with all the positive spin I tried to put on it that one week I went PitchFX diving, I still don't like the deal. The Tigers gave up a useful piece in Eugenio Suarez and a shiny-yet-flawed piece in Jonathon Crawford. Meanwhile, the White Sox gave up a slightly better version of Suarez in Marcus Semien for Jeff Samardzija, who has more WAR in each of the past three seasons than Simon does for his entire career.

Last season, J.D. Martinez hit .315/.358/.553 with 23 home runs and 76 RBI in 480 plate appearances. He won't be doing that again.

(Please prove me wrong, J.D.)

Steamer projects Martinez to hit .273/.323/.462 with 22 home runs and 80 RBI. His run and RBI totals will vary depending on where he hits in the lineup -- my gut tells me he's the team's #2 hitter to start the year -- but I think the homer total is a touch conservative. I think Martinez will hit 25-30 home runs, but possibly at the expense of his average and on-base percentage. The .785 OPS Steamer projects seems about right, but I think that might be with a .310-.320 OBP and a slugging average around .480.

Frankly, it's McCann or bust. There are a few semi-interesting names on the market like Geovany Soto and John Buck, but there's a decent chance McCann can equal their production in a platoon role. Plus, you need to see what you have for 2016. The Tigers could pay a few million for a marginal offensive upgrade in a portion of their games, or they can give McCann a shot and see if he has the chops to take on a bigger role when Avila leaves in 2016.

The Tigers would need to be a long way out of the division race for the club to even think about moving David Price at the trade deadline. They have not had to fight back from a huge deficit in the second half during this four year reign atop the AL Central, but their talented roster and the general arrogance that comes with winning four straight division titles would be a major deterrent for any sort of tear-down.

This brings up another interesting question: how far behind would the Tigers have to be to trade Price? One would assume that they would like to re-sign him next offseason, so that factors into our decision here too. Six games? Eight games? Ten games? My guess is that the Tigers would have to be facing a double digit deficit in July before they start thinking about moving Price, and even then it may only be a quick reload move, a la the Boston Red Sox trading Jon Lester for Yoenis Cespedes last year.

★★★

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