The Detroit Tigers have made some questionable moves in past offseasons. Trading for Alfredo Simon. A general negligence towards the bullpen. The Doug Fi-
/gets booed off stage
You get the idea. This year, the Tigers haven't had that WTF move that characterized past offseasons. Everything has made some sense for the most part, and other moves -- signing Jordan Zimmermann, trading for Francisco Rodriguez, and others -- were unanimously praised the moment they were announced. General manager Al Avila has retooled the roster in just a few short months, giving them a shot at returning to the postseason in 2016.
There were still a few puzzling moves, though. The 2015-16 free agent market has been much slower than in years past, and teams may find themselves landing a bargain or two before spring training. The Tigers' aggressiveness may come back to bite them in a couple cases, though hopefully not in a big way. Let's look at a few of the less popular roster moves the Tigers made this offseason.
Signing Mike Pelfrey
I wasn't thrilled when the Tigers signed Pelfrey, but I understood the move. The Tigers have had to plunge the depths of their farm system for starting pitching over the past two years, so every additional arm helps. Pelfrey made 30 starts last season and should be a competent fifth starter, even if he doesn't outperform 2015 punching bag Alfredo Simon by all that much. He's a nice addition to the 2016 roster.
Then there's that second year, which is the monetary embodiment of the Jackie Chan meme. Pelfrey could potentially lose his job to Michael Fulmer or Shane Greene this year if one of them breaks out, and is a decent bet to get pushed out of the rotation by this time next year. There isn't much starting pitching to be found on next year's free agent market, but I don't know that Pelfrey can do enough in 2016 to significantly raise his trade value for next winter. We may end up publishing an article next February asking what the Tigers should do with Pelfrey.
Trading for Cameron Maybin
It made sense at the time. Immediately after the Tigers sent Ian Krol and prospect Gabe Speier to the Atlanta Braves, I called the trade a "trust the process" move. Maybin has been injury-prone throughout his career, but showed promise with an excellent first half in 2015. The Tigers seemed poised to fix their outfield on the cheap, and Maybin was a net positive even if his actual role was to be determined later.
Now that Justin Upton is in the mix, Maybin could be the odd man out in the Tigers' outfield. Anthony Gose performed admirably in 2015 when he wasn't asked to hit left-handed pitching, and Maybin's reverse splits don't fit this roster as well as someone like Rajai Davis. There's a chance Maybin could repeat his first half last year, but history tells us he's just as likely to end up on the disabled list at some point.
Hindsight is 20-20, though, and the Tigers didn't give up much to get him.
Signing Mike Aviles
I'm not as bent out of shape about this move as the rest of you, but it's still puzzling. The dollars shouldn't really matter on a team with a payroll pushing $200 million, but a lot of people are steamed that Aviles will make $2 million next year.
Those are Aviles' numbers over the past four seasons. He has made 300 plate appearances in each of those four years, and is averaging over 400 per season. Dixon Machado was the only Tiger with a lower OPS+ in at least 50 plate appearances last year, and he's a much better defender than Aviles. The Tigers don't need Aviles now that Upton is patrolling left field, but he will be be there on Opening Day anyway.
Kyle Lobstein DFA'd
Not only was the Aviles signing a bit puzzling, it pushed Kyle Lobstein off the 40-man roster. The Crustacean Sensation quickly became a fan favorite after stabilizing the rotation down the stretch in 2014, and was a solid depth piece in 2015 despite some middling numbers. I tried to decipher the Tigers' reasoning when he was originally designated for assignment, but couldn't get past the part where they threw away a useful depth piece that still has options remaining.
Signing Justin Upton
Hold on, hear me out. Upton is a massive upgrade in left field and makes the lineup that much deeper (especially if he bats second). There's that opt out clause, though. I argued that it wasn't to be trifled over, but many of y'all weren't sold. If Upton produces for two years, he's gone as a free agent. If his leg falls off, he's a payroll anchor for six years. The Tigers won't have a chance to trade him after two or three years, which could net them a nice little prospect haul when someone -- cough cough, the New York Yankees -- misses out on Bryce Harper in free agency.
Yes, it's a stretch. In fact, this entire article is a stretch. The Tigers have had an excellent offseason and could return to contention in 2016. But this is the internet, and something has to be the Worst Thing Ever. I think it's Pelfrey, but I could definitely be wrong. I hope he proves me wrong. Let's all bookmark this page and laugh at Rob later.
What was the Tigers' worst move this offseason?