When Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila told the media that he wanted to make his team younger and leaner this offseason, fans raised an eyebrow. We expected a trade or two, and were even bracing for the day J.D. Martinez is no longer a Tiger. Most fans accepted that this team would look a bit different — and a bit weaker — in 2017.
Then the Tigers traded Cameron Maybin to the Angels and everyone lost their damn mind.
Sure, a lot of the ire drawn from this trade is due to the return. Pitching prospect Victor Alcantara can throw a fastball through a brick wall, but will have some trouble hitting said wall in the first place. There isn’t a ready-made replacement for Maybin in the system at the moment either. “Tyler Collins, Opening Day center fielder” doesn’t inspire much confidence.
But the scariest part is that the Tigers are currently stuck in baseball limbo. They are trying to shed salary — Francisco Rodriguez might also be on the trade block this winter — but still want to be competitive in 2017. FanGraphs explored the idea of trading both Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, but the Tigers organization doesn’t appear ready for a full-blown rebuild.
There is still a lot of offseason left. The Tigers’ plan for constructing a cheaper yet hopefully competitive roster for 2017 will unfold at some point, but it will take time. Until the next domino falls, we Tigers fans can only hope that things break the right way.
Mike Pelfrey, curveball artist?
The crazy bullpen usage we saw throughout the postseason made all sorts of headlines, but other than a few tweaks here and there, probably won’t make much headway in a 162-game regular season. Andrew Miller’s arm might actually fall off if he were used that way for six months.
However, there is another pitching revolution underway. Pitchers are throwing more curveballs than at any point in the past 10 years, and possibly ever. They upped their usage in the 2016 regular season, and we could see a further uptick next year. One Tigers pitcher that might benefit: Mike Pelfrey. His curveball was the best of his four pitches last year, both overall and on a per-pitch basis.
Yo Knows... how to get that money
To no one’s surprise, Yoenis Cespedes opted out of his contract with the New York Mets. Cespedes made $27.5 million in 2016 after wading through a sluggish market following his incredible 2015 season with the Tigers and Mets. Now, after repeating those numbers last year, he should be in line for a big, big payday. Just don’t defer that money for too long, Mets.
In case you have nothing to do this week...
Every year, Royals Review hosts an offseason simulation with different SB Nation writers acting as GM for each team. It’s a lot of fun, but extremely time-consuming. If you have a couple hours to kill, check out that open thread to see the madness unfold.
Just when you finally got ‘Go Cubs Go’ out of your head
Hot Stove: it’s lit
The Cameron Maybin trade marked the unofficial start of the offseason, but several other moves have flown under the radar. The Astros traded reliever Pat Neshek to the Phillies and claimed outfielder Nori Aoki off waivers. The Mariners traded for catcher Carlos Ruiz, and sent lefthander Vidal Nuno to Los Angeles in return (we think). Even Drunk Theo Epstein has gotten busy, declining Jason Hammel’s option and extending Dexter Fowler a qualifying offer.
Things you should read right now
- Lookout Landing proposes a World Series parade route for the Mariners
- Grant Brisbee recaps the World Series as only Grant Brisbee can
- MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince opens up about something no parent should experience (have tissues nearby for this one)