Who doesn’t love playing games of “What if” when they see the current team struggling in the standings. We look at players from years past who are excelling with their current clubs and ask ourselves “would it be different if they were still on the team?” The answer is: maybe. And what if the entire team were made of the best-of-the-best of those players.
Well let’s have a look at what that team might look like, and how much it might cost.
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros: Verlander might very well be on track to get his second Cy Young award this season. He has a 2.15 ERA, and a truly disgusting 0.844 WHIP. Needless to say there are few players on this list more missed by fans than Verlander after his down-to-the-wire trade at the end of August last year. Since then he’s gone on to win a World Series and become more dominant than ever. (Payroll: $28,000,000)
Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals: If Verlander is on track for a second Cy Young, Scherzer could be angling for his fourth. He has a 2.16 ERA, a 0.870 WHIP (and has finished the last three seasons with a sub 1 WHIP, which is inhuman). He’s already got 174 strikeouts this season and it’s only July 6. For comparison his only had 174 strikeouts TOTAL in his 2011 campaign with the Tigers. (Payroll: $22,143,000)
Rick Porcello, Boston Red Sox: Porcello, whose 2016 win record is the reason he won the Cy Young over Verlander, is still a very serviceable starter for the Red Sox, with a 3.57 ERA and 10 wins already, if that’s your jam. (Payroll: $21,125,000)
Robbie Ray, Arizona Diamondbacks: Robbie Ray was an All-Star last season and for good reason. He put up some really tremendous numbers for the DBacks, finishing the year with a 2.89 ERA. His numbers this season aren’t the most fair gauge of his abilities since he went down with an oblique injury on April 29, and only returned to play on June 27th (he pitched six scoreless innings). (Payroll: $3,950,000)
David Price, Boston Red Sox: Oh, another former Cy Young winner? This certainly is a stacked lineup. Price, like Porcello, is doing just fine with the Sox, with a 4.28 ERA. Nothing truly remarkable about his season thusfar, but certainly not a bad guy to fill out your dream former team roster. (Payroll: $30,000,000)
Other names that could have been tossed in here included Drew Smyly, who will soon be making his Cubs debut after missing all of 2017 after Tommy John surgery; and Anibal Sanchez, who has somehow only given up 7 home runs for the Braves and has a 2.89 ERA.
Andrew Miller, Cleveland Indians: Miller, who is currently injured, was truly one of the standout stars of the 2016 Cubs vs Indians World Series. He has been a dominant reliever, and when he’s good, he’s outstanding. He’s had one of his worst seasons ever this year with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.605 WHIP and has battled injuries as well. (Payroll: $9,000,000)
Fernando Rodney, Minnesota Twins: Love him or had him, Rodney has managed to keep himself afloat in the majors for 16 years, and his success in Arizona last season certainly helped him get a job with the Twins (and even stir up offseason rumors he might rejoin the Tigers). (Payroll: $4,250,000)
Justin Wilson, Chicago Cubs: Wilson was one of those names we knew the club had to move last season ahead of the trade deadline, but at the time the return seemed a little light. Now that Jeimer Candelario has shown himself to be a solid third baseman, the sting has worn off. Wilson is okay with the Cubs, which means he’d be one of the best in the Tigers bullpen if we were to re-add him today. (Payroll: $4,250,000)
Corey Knebel, Milwaukee Brewers: Knebel had the best season of his career in 2017, and made the All-Star team as a result. He’s not as impressive this season, but still very good. (Payroll: $3,650,000)
Bruce Rondon, Chicago White Sox: He’s not as bad with the White Sox as he was with the Tigers. (Payroll: $850,000)
Jose Alvarez, Los Angeles Angels: Alavarez, who went to LA in the trade for Andrew Romine, has been consistent for the Angels ever since, and has a nice 2.92 ERA right now, the best in his career. (Payroll: $1,050,000)
Joakim Soria, Chicago White Sox: Yup, Soria is still pitching and has appeared in 34 games this season for the Sox, with a 3.00 ERA. (Payroll: $9,000,000)
Catcher: Alex Avila, Arizona Diamondbacks. Haters gonna hate, but bringing Avila back for 2017 worked out great for the Tigers, who were able to use his hot bat as leverage in the Justin Wilson trade that netted Candelario. His numbers in Arizona this season have been... bad. He’s hitting .124/.240/.219. (Payroll: $4,000,000)
First base: Jefry Marte, Los Angeles Angels. It’s hard to find former Tigers first basemen when the position has been split between Miguel Cabrera and the now-retired Prince Fielder for so long. Marte counts, though, and is hitting .253/.301/.736 this season, which makes him a very decent option for this list. (Payroll: $559,000)
Second base: Ian Kinsler, Los Angeles Angels. The Kinsler trade still stings, but was another necessary move for a rebuilding team. He isn’t having the most remarkable year offensively, hitting .213/.274/.378, but he’s still Ian Kinsler. (Payroll: $11,000,000)
Shortstop: Willy Adames, Tampa Bay Rays. Technically Adames never played for the Tigers, but he was once their top prospect, and was sent to the Rays as part of the David Price trade. Adames has made his major league debut this season and kicked it off with a home run against Chris Sale in his first game. (Payroll: $545,000, pro-rated)
Third base: Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati Reds. Holy crackers has Suarez been good this season for the Reds. .308/.394/.570 with 63 RBIs, and 17 home runs. Suarez was a part of the Alfredo Simon deal, and needless to say I think keeping Suarez would have been the better call. (Payroll: $2,535,714)
Outfield: J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox. After being traded to the Arizona Diamondback before last year’s trade deadline, Martinez hit the free agent market in the 2017 offseason and just... waited. It took awhile, but eventually the Red Sox bit the bullet and paid up for the slugger who is now hitting .327/.392/.642 with a 1.034 OPS, 26 home runs, and 71 RBIs. Guess he was worth it. (Payroll: $23,750,000)
Outfield: Rajai Davis, Cleveland Indians. Considering Davis is now 37 years old and playing a bench position, he’s still dealing, with a .259/.318/.311 line. There’s nothing remarkable about his stats except for the fact they’re coming from a 37 YEARS OLD. (Payroll: $1,750,000)
Outfield: Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets. Once, there was no other player you’d want patrolling your outfield. He’s not the man he once was, hitting .255/.316/.474, but I don’t think anyone would reject having him on the team again. (Payroll: $29,000,000)
DH: Avisail Garcia, Chicago White Sox. His current .280/.299/.515 makes him better than Victor Martinez in the position, and he was once beloved by Tigers as being the clone of Miguel Cabrera. (Payroll: $6,700,000)
Bench: Andrew Romine, Seattle Mariners, because no team is complete without a plucky utility player (Payroll: $1,050,000); Austin Jackson, San Francisco Giants, as an essential fourth outfielder (Payroll: $3,000,000); Devon Travis, Toronto Blue Jays, as your infield depth (Payroll: $1,450,000); and naturally a backup catcher is needed in Bryan Holaday, Miami Marlins (Payroll: $1,000,000).
Your dream team 25-man roster’s total payroll? $219,357,114.