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Detroit Tigers Links: Reliever market erupts with the Tigers still lacking in the bullpen

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Being a reliever has never been a more lucrative profession as the Winter Meetings get underway. Meanwhile the top starting pitchers are off the board save one Johnny Cueto, who immediately becomes the focal point this week, along with the big name position players, none of whom have yet inked a deal.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Reports surfaced on Sunday that the Tigers were continuing to work on terms with former closer Joakim Soria. As Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reported yesterday, the Tigers are still interested in the right-hander as their set-up man in 2016. Another option emerged late Sunday night in the form of reliever Mark Lowe, who the Tigers are reportedly close to a deal with according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The question is what this going to cost, as the price of high quality relievers is reaching unprecedented heights.

  • Reports that Darren O'Day was headed back to Baltimore on a four-year, $31 million dollar a year deal, may have been premature.
  • Billy Beane and the A's made us all scratch our heads in wonder as they gave middle reliever Ryan Madson, who missed 2012-2014, a three-year deal worth $22 million dollars, or in other words, more per year than Joakim Soria was paid this year to close for the Tigers.
  • Our old pal Dave Dombrowski kicked this off a few weeks ago by ponying up four solid to decent prospects to the San Diego Padres for the right to pay Craig Kimbrel $11 million dollars to close games for the Red Sox this year, followed by raises to over $13 million per for the remaining years of his deal.
  • Meanwhile, the mightiest relief arm in all the land belongs to the Cincinnati Reds closer, Aroldis Chapman. Having lost out on Zack Greinke over the weekend to the newly flush with cash Arizona Diamondbacks, the LA Dodgers appear close to dealing for Chapman, and will settle for Hisashi Iwakuma as their main rotation addition.

What does this mean for the Tigers? Beyond my idle consideration of what Blaine Hardy or Alex Wilson might be worth in trade? It means it's a good thing Al Avila was quickly on the ball in trading for Francisco Rodriguez as the Tigers new closer. Prices for non-closers like Soria, O'Day and Madson are hitting terrifying heights, making mock of the $7.5 million per WAR estimate.

With the Tigers rotation complete with the signing of Mike Pelfrey, and the catcher position upgraded by the addition of switch-hitting veteran catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the final pieces of what could be an excellent off-season remain to be acquired.

Will the Tigers simply spend the cash required for a pair of good relievers, or could new GM Al Avila still blow us away with a multi-player deal to net both relief help and the outfielder this roster still badly needs? With the hot stove now glowing cherry-red, it may not be long until we find out.

In the meantime, here's a few tweets you'll hate...

Winter Meetings Preview

The best Winter Meetings trades of all time | AJ Cassavell, MLB.com
There aren't many weeks on the baseball calendar more exciting than the annual Winter Meetings. OK, OK -- the weeks with actual games can be pretty fun, too. But as far as the offseason goes, the Winter Meetings are the pinnacle. The Hot Stove doesn't get any hotter than it will next week when officials from all 30 teams convene at th'e Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

5 teams that will dictate MLB Winter Meetings | Richard Justice, MLB.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We're looking for a team with a sense of urgency and an abundance of quality prospects. For instance, the St. Louis Cardinals. They've spent cautiously and constructed their teams smartly. Now this might be the offseason when long-term thinking delivers a short-term payoff. Unwilling to match Boston's $217-million offer for David Price in free agency, the Cardinals will attempt to acquire a veteran starting pitcher via the trade market.

What does a senior director of baseball operations and analytics, do exactly?

The Tigers very own Jay Sartori took time out to describe what that mouthful of a title actually means...

Beyond the Box Score investigates the big signings of the past week

  • Tigers fans are no stranger to Dave Dombrowski's penchant for big deals, nor his disdain for prospects. Nick Lampe takes a look at the deals for Craig Kimbrel and David Price and wonders if the Red Sox have already gone too far. In just a few short weeks, the former Tigers GM has already committed his club to nearly $300 million in new contracts and traded away four pieces from the Red Sox farm system. The fit between GM and club seems a good one at least.
  • Coming off one of his best seasons, certainly his most valuable one, John Lackey is reunited with his old buddy Jon Lester. The fiery 37-year old looks like a steal on just a two-year contract for $32 million dollars. With Lance Lynn gone, and Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia both regular victims of the DL recently, you'd think the Cardinals might have outbid their N.L. Central rivals.
  • "...as if a thousand Dodgers fans cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced." It's never fun to miss out on your heart's desire. How did the Dodgers get outbid by the Arizona Diamondbacks? And does this shift the balance of power in the N.L. West?

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Here, it's Monday, so read this while you ponder why you did what you did this weekend

  • Jeff Samardzija could've played in the NFL. Sure the wear and tear on the body is far worse, the career often shorter, but you go immediately into the pro ranks out of college. The big check comes much earlier. Now compare Samardzija's career earnings in the wake of his $90 million dollar deal with the Giants, to the career earnings of our very own Calvin Johnson, potentially a Hall of Fame receiver. Baseball pays, and football hurts.
  • We all know someone who hates seeing a player hack at the first pitch, this despite watching guys like Miguel Cabrera, Nick Castellanos and JD Martinez crush first pitches all year. The Tigers have made a point of being aggressive in this regard for years and it's worked for them. But is this a trend, or a statistical blip on the radar league-wide? Matthew Trueblood of Baseball Prospectus investigates.