In his first offseason at the helm as the Detroit Tigers' executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager, Al Avila stayed quite busy. The team made plenty of changes to both the major league and minor league rosters throughout the winter, creating a 25-man roster that is far different than the one that finished the 2015 season in last place. Here is a review of each transaction made by the team during the 2015 offseason.
Major League Moves
Oct. 14: Infielder Josh Wilson elected to become a free agent.
Nov. 2: Five players elected to become free agents: catcher Alex Avila, outfielder Rajai Davis, starting pitchers Alfredo Simon and Randy Wolf, and reliever Tom Gorzelanny; Avila later signed with the White Sox, Simon rejoined the Reds, and Davis and Gorzelanny were added by the Indians.
Nov. 3: Closer Joe Nathan elected to become a free agent.
Nov. 18: The Tigers acquired reliever Francisco Rodriguez in a trade with the Brewers, sending infielder Javier Betancourt and a player to be named later to Milwaukee. Later in the offseason it was announced that catcher Manny Pina was the final piece in the deal.
This is the first time the Tigers have had a proven closer for their bullpen since the last time they acquired a proven closer for their bullpen. Except, it's different this time, isn't it? Isn't it?
Picking up K-Rod signals a change from previous seasons, a reason for hope, doesn't it?
Nov. 20: The Tigers traded lefties Ian Krol and Gabe Speier to the Braves in return for outfielder Cameron Maybin.
Maybin is no longer the five-tool prospect that helped the Tigers acquire Miguel Cabrera, but is still a capable defender who has shown enough offensive potential to keep his head above water. He hit .267/.327/.370 with 10 home runs and 23 stolen bases last season, and improved his walk rate and power compared to 2014.
Nov. 30: The Tigers signed starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to a five-year, $110 million deal.
Because the Tigers locked him up on what appears to be a team friendly deal, Zimmermann doesn't have to pitch like his 2014 self to be worth the investment. No Tigers fans would mind if he were to rip off another five win season or two, but putting together more seasons in the 3.0-4.0 WAR range he has averaged since 2011 would be sufficient for what he is getting paid.
Dec. 2: Relievers Neftali Feliz and Al Alburquerque elected to become free agents; Feliz joined the Pirates and Alburquerque was signed by the Angels.
Dec. 6: The Tigers signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a one year deal.
Not only will Saltalamacchia platoon well with McCann, he also provides a solid option off the bench in key situations. The Tigers haven't had an above average bench bat in several years now, and Saltalamacchia's splits pair well with the Tigers' righty-heavy lineup.
The Tigers also added starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey on a contract worth $16 million over two years.
The formula is quite simple, really. Pelfrey + good infield defense = solid back-of-the-rotation pitcher. Pelfrey + bad infield defense = guy you complain about incessantly when your team signs him in the offseason. Pelfrey has good defense behind him this year, which makes his 2016 stats a hidden Easter egg.
Dec. 8: The Tigers signed right-handed reliever Mark Lowe for two years and $11 million.
Essentially, the 6'3 righty from Texas has found his armoury once again, got fully healthy, and refined the stuff that got him to the big leagues in the first place. It's an informative tale of perseverance and mechanical tweaking that shows that not all is lost even in the twilight of a players career when production seems to be heading south.
Dec. 9: The Tigers acquired reliever Justin Wilson in a trade with the Yankees, sending right-handers Luis Cessa and Chad Green to New York.
Present value is worth more than future value, though, and the Tigers are gambling on Wilson's ability to get outs in 2016. ... Wilson is a win-now upgrade, and fills a major need for a club that could probably still benefit from adding just one more bullpen arm. There's definite egg-on-their-face potential down the road, but this is a savvy trade that provides less risk than one of the big-name arms on the free agent market.
Dec. 18: The Tigers added utility man Mike Aviles on a one year deal.
The Tigers have a redundancy problem, and their names are Andrew Romine and Mike Aviles.
Both serve the same purpose, yet both are expected to be on the 25-man roster when the Tigers break camp.
Jan. 20: The Tigers signed outfielder Justin Upton to a six-year deal worth $132.75 million.
This move reaffirms something we have known for a long time: owner Mike Ilitch is all in for a championship, and he will spare no expense to see a November parade down Woodward Avenue before he passes away. In his eyes, adding another $100+ million contract to the roster isn't a calculated risk, it's an insurance policy.
Minor League Moves
Oct. 8: The Tigers signed right-handers Omar Feliz and Jose Ramirez to minor league deals.
Oct. 28: Right-hander Eduardo Figueroa was signed to a minor league contract. Figueroa was later released on January 21.
Nov. 2: The Tigers signed infielder Mike Torres, outfielder Jose Quero, and right-hander Edgar Escalona to minor league deals.
Nov. 9: Right-hander Guido Knudson was claimed off waivers by the Pirates.
Nov. 10: Outfielder Jiwan James was signed to a minor league contract.
Nov. 24: Left-hander Anthony Fernandez was signed to a minor league contract.
Nov. 25: Right-hander Jake Brigham was signed to a minor league contract. Brigham was later released on December 18.
Dec. 2: The Tigers signed infielder Tommy Fields and right-hander Ross Seaton to minor league deals.
Dec. 3: Righties Cory Riordan and Ruben Alaniz were signed to minor league deals.
Dec. 8: The Tigers signed right-handers Preston Guilmet and Rafael Dolis to minor league deals. Dolis was later released on January 16.
Dec. 11: Left-hander Drake Britton and right-handers Lendy Castillo and Thad Weber were signed to minor league deals.
Dec. 14: The Tigers signed righty Melvin Mercedes to a minor league contract after he elected to become a free agent earlier in the offseason. Mercedes was later released on March 23.
Dec. 15: Middle infielder Alberto Gonzalez was signed to a minor league contract.
Dec. 16: The Tigers signed outfielder Nate Schierholtz and catcher Albert Cordero to minor league deals.
Dec. 18: The Tigers signed right-hander Dustin Molleken to a minor league contract.
Dec 21: After designating lefty Kyle Lobstein for assignment three days prior, the Tigers traded him to the Pirates for cash considerations.
The Tigers also signed outfielder Jordany Valdespin to a minor league contract.
Dec. 23: Right-hander Logan Kensing was signed to a minor league contract.
Dec. 30: Outfielder Chad Huffman and right-hander Michael Crotta were signed to minor league deals.
Jan. 4: The Tigers signed catcher Raffy Lopez to a minor league contract.
Jan. 11: The Tigers signed infielders Tyler Bortnick and Gustavo Nunez and outfielder John Mayberry Jr. to minor league deals.
Jan. 15: Catcher Yaniel Cabezas was signed to a minor league contract.
Jan. 20: The Tigers also signed middle infielder Argenis Diaz to a minor league contract.
Jan. 27: The Tigers traded third baseman Jefry Marte to the Angels in exchange for second baseman Kody Eaves.
Jan. 28: The Tigers signed right-hander Willy Paredes to a minor league contract.
Jan. 29: The Tigers signed infielder Leonardo Laffita to a minor league contract.
Feb. 2: Infielder Casey Frawley was signed to a minor league contract.
Feb. 6: The Tigers signed catcher Luke Carlin to a minor league contract.
Feb. 19: The Tigers signed right-hander Bobby Parnell to a minor league contract.
Feb. 23: Infielder Casey McGehee was signed to a minor league contract.
Mar. 1: The Tigers signed right-hander Lucas Harrell to a minor league contract.
Mar. 7: The Tigers signed right-hander Yordy Cabrera to a minor league contract.