It was USA Today's Bob Nightengale who first broke the news that the Detroit Tigers had signed Justin Upton to a six-year contract. As the celebration began among Tigers fans everywhere -- including some unsightly taunting of the opposition -- the baseball elite all began chiming in to confirm the reports. The Tigers' battle station is now fully operational.
Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports hits the right note describing just how lucky Tigers' fans are to have Mike Ilitch and his go-for-broke attitude at the helm. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick can't help but reference speculation that the Tigers might rebuild instead, and perhaps hasn't been paying attention to this franchise in recent years.
For my money, FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan provides the best analysis of the bunch, BYB excluded. While admitting that Ilitch makes notions of efficiency and frugality irrelevant, he also notes the two year opt-out as both a potential spur for Upton to continue to produce, as well as a potential escape hatch for the Tigers' future payroll were Upton to exercise that clause after the 2017 season. Sullivan also brings up a peculiar little tidbit about Comerica Park's supposed strikeout reducing tendency, which is...peculiar.
MLB.com's Jason Beck discusses the behind the scenes position of the Tigers' front office until Ilitch gave them the go-ahead to explore a big name player. Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi mentions that the Tigers are only the second team ever to spend $100 million or more on two players in an offseason (you can probably guess the other team). He also considers the impact of the Tigers' elite lineup on Upton himself, and wonders how much of an issue the heavily right-handed lineup will have with right-handed pitching.
Meanwhile, our buddy Neil Weinberg at New English D write that the Upton signing completes a fine offseason without sacrificing any of the young pitching talent the Tigers will need to continue to stay relevant a few years down the road. Finally, A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com takes a look at the heart of the Tigers' new lineup and concludes that the heavily right-handed lineup is more balanced than some would think.
Social Media Reactions
Justin Verlander is understandably stoked...
While Daniel Norris remains a man of strong emotion, but few words...
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!— Daniel Norris (@DanielNorris18) January 19, 2016
James McCann is whelmed.
MLB seems suitably awed...
Royals Review doesn't love this.
Justin Upton career vs.: Volquez 8-for-17, 4 doubles, 4 K Kennedy 3-for-8, 1 HR, 3 BB Medlen 2-for-4, 1 HR, 2 K Young 5-for-15, 6 K— Royals Review (@royalsreview) January 19, 2016
First attempts at our new lineup (yes, this will never happen).
How I'd line them up: Upton LF Cabrera 1B Martinez RF Martinez DH Kinsler 2B Castellanos 3B Iglesias SS McCann C Maybin CF (not happening)— Neil Weinberg (@NeilWeinberg44) January 19, 2016
It seems disaster was only narrowly averted...
hear mike ilitch was absolutely ready to sign chris davis before gm avila talked him out of it. j-up is (a bit) less $.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 19, 2016
Links for further reading
- The Hardball Times takes an in-depth look at what makes a true artist of the change-up so effective.
- You may have noticed, but that Chris Sale guy is really good. If he's got you down 0-2 you're almost certainly toast. He only walked one guy from an 0-2 count last year. The hitter? One Julio Daniel Martinez.
- It's a bit odd in retrospect that the Tigers and J.D. Martinez are only two million apart in negotiations but haven't yet agreed. Turns out, the Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson are splitting even finer hairs in Toronto. Seems a good way to brew bad blood!