The Detroit Tigers lost 114 games last year, most of them in demoralizing fashion. The farm system is improving, but is still probably another season away from giving the major league club a serious lift. To their credit, the Tigers have done well in adding talent this offseason that should make the major league roster much better in 2020. We (roughly) estimated that Austin Romine, C.J. Cron, and Jonathan Schoop could help improve the Tigers roster by 10 WAR on their own. The club has since added innings eater Iván Nova on a one-year deal, another move many fans have liked.
There is still more to be done, though. The Tigers have talked about adding both an outfielder and a relief arm at points this offseason, and have not yet addressed either area via the free agent market.
Don’t worry, though, we’re here to help. Let’s see who the Bless You Boys staff on their winter shopping list.
This week’s question: Who is one more player you would like to see the Tigers acquire this offseason?
Ashley: Yasiel Puig! He’s fun, he’s dynamic, and he is also going to linger on the market forever because he wants $15 million per year, so who knows what he might say yes to in February for a year.
Chris: Since he is still out there, Nicholas Castellanos. But if we’re being more realistic, Yasiel Puig. The outfield was one of the darker sides of an abysmal team last season and he would immediately be an improvement on both sides of the ball with solid enough defense, a cannon of an arm, and a bat that would be an immediate impact on a team that direly needs it. Plus he would just be a hell of a lot of fun because, well, he’s Yasiel Puig.
Trevor: Puig, for sure. I’m just not sure how realistic it is. I think adding any sort of pop would be good, and the guy that comes to mind is Domingo Santana. He is not good on defense, and he will strikeout a ton, but the Tigers team leader in 2019 had 15 home runs. I think adding some pop would be fun, and if it’s going to have to be cheap, then Santana seems like the best bang for your buck.
John: It’s gonna be fun when every answer is Puig.
Peter: Since everyone is going to say Puig, I’ll go with Hunter Pence. He had a resurgent season at age 36 with Texas last year, and while it’s doubtful he repeats that performance, there’s a good chance he can provide more value than what the Tigers are currently set to deploy in the corner outfield. And he’s a well-respected veteran and entertaining clubhouse personality, so I’d gladly welcome him and his scooter to Comerica Park this summer. Given his age and situation, he would likely be available for a small amount, which would fit the Tigers’ budget.
Adam: Puig: Come for the dingers, stay for the shenanigans.
Rob: Without knowing any conversations that have been had between Castellanos and the Tigers front office, I’d say he’s more reasonable than people think. His market doesn’t appear to be developing all that well, especially if he wants to continue playing the outfield. It would require the Tigers to go in on a multi-year deal, something they haven’t done in a while, but he’s a few years younger than most free agents, and the club is plenty familiar with him. There’s also no qualifying offer to dance around (a la Marcell Ozuna).
Patrick: Yasiel Puig, preferably on a multi year contract. I want to see the Tigers actually put the “build” into their rebuild and acquire players who will be around for a few seasons, instead of just plugging holes for a year and drafting and watching the kids grow up. Puig is a freak athlete who can hit and make plays in the outfield. There are no position players in the organization that the club should be worried about “blocking,” and the lineup is in desperate need of major league hitters. I would not be concerned about giving up a third round pick for signing Ozuna, either, but I don’t see the Tigers doing that.
Adam: Other than Puig or Castellanos — sorry Peter, I have to pass on Hunter Pence — I’d be most interested in a reasonable starting pitcher. A reunion with Drew Smyly on an incentive-laden contract would work nicely so that the team doesn’t feel rushed to get Casey Mize, Matt Manning, or Tarik Skubal up to the big leagues, and also takes some weight off of Jordan Zimmermann’s neck. There is plenty of room for other farm-hand pitchers to get their cups of coffee in the wild west that is the bullpen, so I would like to bolster the rotation a little more if possible. Good pitching keeps games close and interesting.
Jay: Smyly signed with the Giants.
Adam: Just edit in [INSERT FREE AGENT STARTING PITCHER]
Trevor: Adam is in favor of Edwin Jackson?
Adam: Perhaps! I’m a fan of the Energizer Bunny.
Trevor: What about Aaron Sanchez?
Adam: Sanchez is definitely intriguing. Daniel Stumpf is still available.
Trevor: Shelby Miller is available too and he’s worth approximately one Dansby Swanson on the trade market.
Adam: I saw his name and vomited in my mouth a little.
Patrick: Top 50 free agents still unsigned: Ozuna, Castellanos, Puig, Brock Holt, and Pedro Strop.
Adam: In conclusion, I’d like another reliable innings eater who might have some latent upside.
Brady: I wish I could give a unique answer, but it has to be Puig. I’d be all for Ozuna if he didn’t have a qualifying offer attached to him, but alas. Puig is what the Tigers have been missing during the rebuild, especially since Miguel Cabrera hasn’t been himself: an exciting bat who’s stable in the field and a riot off it. That’s the one thing this squad needs almost more than anything, and Puig has always been must-see TV.
Brandon: Sanchez or Taijuan Walker seem like decent ideas, but we have potential starters piling up all over the place. Wouldn’t hate Puig or Ben Zobrist just for the hell of it. Really, though, I want Castellanos back. Talk to him about playing some first base down the road and see if you can still lock him up for five years. Relations seem poor of course, but I’m sure that could be amended with a little effort.
Rob: And a lot of money.
Jay: I agree that the Tigers should be looking to add a legitimate bat on a multi-year deal. For the sake of originality, I depart from that answer. There isn’t much left on the major league free agent market, but back in November, I identified six minor league free agents who the Tigers should take a look at. That list included righthander Alexander Guillen, a reliever from the Rockies system who tearing up Double-A, striking out 10.68 batters per nine innings, and finished with a sub-two ERA. I still think the Tigers should still be interested in Guillen, who could provide an interesting depth option with upside. FanGraphs loves his stuff, he has recent success, and he’s only 24 years old. I see no reason to not give him a flyer.