MLB free agency quietly kicked off over the weekend, with nothing but a few low level signings and waiver claims to report. Rumors have been flying fast and furious, however, with many anticipating that this offseason will be a return to the loosely controlled chaos we are used to. After last winter’s snoozefest, that would be a welcome sight.
The Detroit Tigers aren’t expected to make a splash this offseason, but general manager Al Avila hinted that the team might be looking to upgrade at a couple of key spots.
Naturally, we’re running wild with this. Let’s take a look at everyone’s wish lists for this winter.
This week’s question: who is the one free agent you want the Tigers to sign this offseason and why?
Peter: Andrew Miller, for the narrative.
Ashley: I would love for the Tigers to get a good free agent catcher, someone who can pick up the main duties from James McCann but also serve as a solid clubhouse leader for the younger guys like Grayson Greiner and John Hicks (and heck, Jake Rogers if he gets a chance at the big show). I’d take someone like Jonathan Lucroy, Matt Wieters or (in my ultimate dream?) Wilson Ramos.
Ashley: FINE WILSON RAMOS
Jay: It would be great if the Tigers could get D.J. LeMahieu. His glove would be a nice addition to the currently messy middle infield situation. Losing Jose Iglesias is a serious blow to the Tigers’ defense, and Dawel Lugo and Niko Goodrum aren’t going to do anything to help. Contenders won’t be clamoring for LeMahieu’s services either; his bat has regressed since that incredible 2016 performance, which only adds to skittishness about players from Denver. He could likely be had at a reasonable price. There is more upside here than with some other middle infield options, though. It isn’t out of the question that he will improve again — he’s entering his prime years. He is also good at avoiding strikeouts, so even if he can’t bludgeon the opponent with singles anymore, at least he won’t whiff every third time he comes to the plate. In short, LeMahieu would provide a solid, albeit unexciting player to hold down the fort in the middle infield while we wait for the Isaac Paredes and Kody Clemens to get to the show.
Chris: I’ll pick up on one of Ashley’s and roll with Matt Wieters. Jake Rogers probably won’t be ready to step in at the beginning of the 2019 season and we all know McCann shouldn’t be the short-term answer behind the plate. He has regressed on both sides of the ball in each season since he arrived on the scene. With Wieters, you get a veteran clubhouse presence who also serves as an upgrade at the plate, with a past record of being able to get on base at a respectable clip. He’s also a former Gold Glove winner, serving, again, as an upgrade to McCann. Wieters is an injury risk, obviously, nut a one-year deal is low risk, especially since there are guys in Hicks and Greiner who could shoulder the load if injuries manifest themselves again. Plus, as a bounce back candidate, there’s the possibility of flipping Wieters at the deadline if healthy and/or if the market is there.
Patrick: My choice would be Manny Machado. He is the best free agent player on the market, still only 26, and the Tigers don’t have a major league caliber shortstop on their roster. Sure, they have eleventeen “glove first” infielders and a few “if he can stick at the position” guys in the pipeline, but nobody who could stand alongside Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor. Mainly, I would like the Tigers to convince us that they are willing to spend — at all — to put a contending team on the field. Make a splash with a Pudge Rodriguez or Magglio Ordonez type of signing. Because until they do, many of us won’t be convinced that they ever will.
Brandon: I’ll go with Marwin Gonzalez after seconding the hunt for a catcher. He is versatile and an above-average switch-hitter who gets on base. He could probably be had for three years and $40 million [Ed.: MLB Trade Rumors projects two years, $18 million], and would bring some veteran leadership and production without clogging the path for our prospects.
Rob: As tempted as I am to say Bryce Harper, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Tigers go out and get a legitimate mid-rotation starting pitcher. They were burned the last time they gave significant money to a free agent starter, but someone like Gio Gonzalez could be had for a much shorter and cheaper contract than the Tigers gave to Jordan Zimmermann. Gonzalez is coming off an up-and-down 2018 season, but has historically posted solid strikeout rates while being tough to square up. He should have plenty of suitors, but is still only projected to receive a two-year, $24 million contract by our friends at MLB Trade Rumors.
Kyle: I agree with Jay and would love for the Tigers to snatch D.J. LeMahieu. There is currently a gap in the middle of the infield and it’s impossible to know what prospects will stick where if and when they finally make it to Detroit. LeMahieu is solid on both sides of the ball and could provide some stability as the team begins to transition from rebuilding to competing. He should not demand a lofty contract, and there is still little downside risk for the team right now. In the best case scenario, he performs so well that the team has to decide what to do when the younger players become ready. The more likely result is that he provides quality defense for the pitchers and puts another good bat into the lineup for a couple years.
Cameron: Manny Machado. The Tigers need a shortstop and need a player to anchor the offense for the next competitive window. Machado will do both and bring a superstar to a team that’s looking for relevance. If teams are dumb enough to pay him less because of his playoff antics, then I want the Tigers to take full advantage of that. Manny Machado is not Aroldis Chapman and he is not Jose Reyes. Comparing him to those who have committed actual crimes is unreasonable, even if he is a prick on the field. I’d prefer he not spike anymore first basemen, but Machado is an elite baseball player and would surely accelerate the Tigers rebuild. Go for it and show me you’re ready to spend and compete in the next three years.