You know it's been a bad year for your team when the World Series hasn't even started yet and you've already been fantasizing about the offseason for a solid two and half months. Let's just pretend this season never happened, OK? The 2015 Tigers said they were going out for a pack of cigarettes in April and just never came back, so now we move on to 2016 and all the crazy things that Al Avila is probably/maybe/hopefully going to do to get the franchise back to the business of winning division titles and puking all over themselves in the postseason.
You want bold predictions? I've got three of them, and you can take these straight to the bank (where you will immediately be escorted out by security). Take it from the guy who predicted back in March that we'd be watching a Nationals vs. White Sox World Series in October: I know what I'm talking about.
Prediction #1: Anibal Sanchez is getting traded
The Tigers have approximately 60 percent of their payroll tied up in four players: Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Anibal Sanchez. Of those four players, Sanchez is the only one I can remotely envision being viewed as a trade chip. He's eating up nearly $17 million of the payroll, and when Al Avila announced a few weeks ago that he'd be looking to add two starting pitchers, the math stopped adding up.
The number of potential starters exceeds the number of rotational slots: Verlander, Sanchez, Greene, Norris, Lobstein, Boyd, plus these two unknown hurlers that Avila says he wants to get. Ok, scratch Lobstein. Or scratch Norris, if you're feeling especially cocky about your predictive powers. But I don't think you can scratch both of them, and I don't see the organization leaving these up-and-coming arms in Toledo for the entire season. Someone's gotta go, and Sanchez -- with his injury history and payroll-eating presence -- is a prime candidate for the trading block.
Prediction #2: Jose Iglesias is also getting traded
Put down the torches and pitchforks, Hottie McTakester, I didn't say that these were ideas I especially enjoy. I'm a big fan of Iggy and his leather-centric wizardry, but there's this guy named Dixon Machado who just might be seen by the organization as an adequate solution at shortstop, while Iglesias and all of his highlight-reel sparkle would be a juicy piece of trade-bait for a team that desperately needs starting pitching.
I don't like the idea, but I also don't get to make the decisions, and if the Tigers are going to get two starting pitchers without breaking Mike Ilitch's piggy bank in the process, they're probably going to have to trade for one of those starters. The shortstop position seems to be the place where they actually have a little bit of depth, so connect the dots and start preparing the farewell montages for Iglesias.
Prediction #3: Zack Greinke is getting signed
That's right, kids, grab a stack of napkins and let the salivating begin. Greinke knows he's a hot commodity, and he wants to try free agency in 2016. Mike Ilitch told Al Avila when he got the GM job, "make sure you know, the foot is on the pedal, hard" -- and when Mike Ilitch gets all fidgety like that, it usually means he belches up hundreds of millions of dollars for a big, splashy contract because the man has, if nothing else, a flair for the gaudy and dramatic. (You've seen his hair-piece, you know what I mean.)
No, it's probably not a great idea to add yet another long-term and super-sized contract, especially for a pitcher who's already 32 years old, but Ilitch is hot in pursuit of a World Series ring while also trying to outrun the Grim Reaper, so you know what? Pack the pipe with fresh YOLO, spark it up, and let tomorrow worry about itself. Sorting out the budgetary issues and creating a contingency plan to deal with the downstream ramifications? That's for Al Avila to worry about somewhere down the road, but for right now, "the foot is on the pedal, hard" and Ilitch sounds like he's ready to go out in a blaze of glory.
Zack Greinke, Detroit Tiger? Admit it, you'd enjoy it for at least the first couple of years.
So that's the plan for 2016, seal it, stamp it, bury it in a box and dig it up next year to see just how horribly off the mark all of it was. One prediction I'm sure of: this offseason is going to be must-see entertainment.