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Detroit Tigers News: It’s all about the free agents

The media has been abuzz over who the Tigers might sign out of this year’s free agent crop.

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Let the rosterbation begin! Free agency season is in high gear as fans and the media alike have started wringing their hands over who might fit with which team, and how much those players can expect to receive. For the Detroit Tigers, the team is looking fill in the numerous gaps exposed last season, as well as hopefully find a few upgrades on the market.

Five free agents

While there will be more names joining the free agent ranks as the offseason wears on and teams continue to pare their rosters, there are several already on the market of interest to Detroit. Evan Woodbery over at MLive proposes five players who could give the Tigers a significant boost next season.

Jason Castro leads off the list, a catcher by trade who wields a decent bat and could help bring some veteran stability to the team’s inexperienced backstop platoon; Alex Avila would also fit this bill well. Eric Thames is another name, a first baseman slugger whose numbers have been in decline along with rumors of a return trip to Korea, which means the Tigers could get him cheap; Justin Smoak could also fill this role.

Then there is Wilmer Flores, a utilityman in his prime years who has a career 110 OPS+ and represents an upgrade over the likes of Ronny Rodriguez. In the outfield there is Kole Calhoun, who plays great defense, and while his home run numbers in 2019 were very likely unsustainable, he does offer a legitimate bat in the lineup. If not Calhoun, Corey Dickerson or Lonnie Chisenhall could be considered.

Finally there is Rick Porcello, Detroit’s former first-round pick, who might offer some support for the rickety starting pitching rotation the Tigers have cobbled together. His numbers have not been pretty, but perhaps a return back to the D could give him some fresh scenery. If not Porcello, then maybe former Tigers Drew Smyly should get the call.

Regardless of who the Tigers sign, they need to find some players who are more than just warm bodies to fill out the roster. This list is as good as any place to start.


The area the Tigers need the biggest boost in free agency is the offense, which was downright offensive to the senses last season. Mr. Woodbery again takes this topic to task, utilizing Steamer projections as a starting point.

According to Steamer 600, prospect Isaac Paredes is the only player projected to produce more than 2.0 WAR, and there is practically no chance he will see major league action next year. The projection system also suggests that it is a bit early to give up on Christin Stewart and Jeimer Candelario, and also seems to believe in Miguel Cabrera’s dedication to getting into shape, anointing him with a projected 108 wRC+ — the highest on the team. Travis Demeritte also shows some potential.

The rest of the team? Yuck. The article also includes the projections for defense and pitching, but it is the offense that is of greater concern after a historically awful season. Hopefully, they can get the bats going next year.

Minor league free agents

The list of former minor leaguers from the Tigers’ farm has been released, and among them are five names who appeared in Detroit last season, not including previously outrighted players who accepted free agency. All of them had a chance to make their impression on the club, but failed to meet expectations.

Mikie Mahtook and Dustin Peterson were both on the opening day roster and got some playing time before being sent back to the minors. Pitchers Jose Fernandez, Eduardo Jimenez and Zac Reininger all saw some time in the big leagues, though none of them made a worthwhile impression during their time up.

The departure of these five guys leaves the Tigers’ 40-man roster with 33 players, leaving seven spots open for free agent signings or a Rule 5 draft selection.

Tigers History: Uniforms throughout the years

Base hits

Around the horn

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