We find ourselves in the early stages of what is sure to be a very unusual free agent season. Teams, who have seen their revenue deeply impacted by a season without fans, have seemed cagey about the idea of spending big on free agency, and many of the would-be big names coming available this season have already signed contract extensions.
That said, the Tigers have let several of last season’s acquisitions walk, and will need to sign free agents in order to plug the gaps where a prospect may not yet be ready to play daily. The team is going to need to spend money, though how much remains a very up in the air question.
The Bless You Boys staff sat down to discuss which available free agents are the most interesting targets for the Tigers, and who we would most like to see don an Olde English D next year.
Jay: TREVOR BAUER BABYYYY. (for legal purposes, that was not serious, he would be an awful fit for the situation we’re in)
Peter: I’d like to see them target a longish term 2B, like Cesar Hernandez, Jurikson Profar, or even a reunion with Jonathan Schoop. If Chris is feeling generous, make a run at LeMahieu. Here’s why. We have money off the books this year and no long term solutions up the middle in the infield. Yeah yeah Willi Castro but he’s a butcher with the glove. Wenceel Perez might emerge as a future everyday SS but he has no power and hasn’t played above A ball.
Next offseason is the year of the FA shortstop. Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story. Theres a franchise SS waiting there. With the young pitching already arriving, the blueprint for building the team is clear. Get 2B this year. SS next year. All the kids (Mize, Manning, Skubal, Torkelson, Greene) arrive ready for 2022 to restore the Tigers roar.
Brady. My dream acquisition is JT Realmuto. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the parallels between these Tigers and the Tigers that splashed on Pudge. But since that’s not super likely...
I’d like to see Chris Archer. He busted HARD in Pittsburgh and could be had on a fair one-year “prove it” deal. He could be a massive restoration project for this new and improved staff that could either net a young asset or become a new piece for the rebuild. At worst he sucks and we can say we tried.
Ashley: I’d be curious to see how Archer would do with Chris Fetter.
Zane: Looking at the budget end of guys, Joc Pederson as a platoon OF versus RH hitters would pair well with JaCoby Jones, who absolutely mashed lefties for his short stint in 2020. But obviously, I want a Realmuto or Ozuna or Springer just like everybody else.
Rob: Screw budget guys, bring me George Springer. I imagine having A.J. Hinch in the dugout will help Detroit’s appeal slightly, and Springer is the kind of guy you can pay well for three or four years to help support the young core as they transition to the majors. And MLB Trade Rumors projects Springer to go to the White Sox, so taking another target from them this offseason would be a big win.
Zane: Yeah, start undercutting the White Sox. I still want Pederson in addition to a smaller guy, though.
Adam: All of the names listed already are intriguing, but some are on the wrong side of 30 years old. So depending on what we’re looking to get out of them long-term, that is a factor with variable weight. For me, I’d like to get someone who can give us 3-4 quality years. Springer and Archer being the oldest — and the later being a pitcher — kinda sour me a little on them. Bauer and Realmuto are on the right side of the dividing line, but I’m not sure I’d want to deal with Bauer’s drama and catchers tend to fall precipitously after the three decade notch.
Right in the middle is Marcell Ozuna, who isn’t really trending the right direction despite a loud 2020 summer. I don’t see any of them moving the needle enough over the next few years, so I’d like to invoke my KBO love and suggest Ha-Seong Kim. He would provide a steady presence both ways at shortstop, and at 25 years old would represent a tidy investment into a young core that — if it coalesces — could keep the team in contention for years to come.
Cameron: I’m going to say George Springer. He plays great defense in right field and hits for power, two things the Tigers have been lacking out of that position for a few years now. He wouldn’t really be blocking anyone either if he’s signed for five or so years, as Riley Greene has been working out of center field in the minors and could just as easily shift to left as well. The Hinch connection, while certainly controversial, could also prove helpful as he might feel more comfortable with Detroit as a destination. The Tigers have a lot of money to blow, and Springer seems like a pretty safe bet to be a pretty good player for a few more years. Why not?
Patrick: Marcel Ozuna is my pick. The Tigers need a middle of the order bat more than anything and Ozuna, who turns 30 this month, fits the bill. Springer would be the better outfielder, but his price tag likely puts him out of the Tigers self imposed price range. He would also cost a compensation pick, which this year would be the Round A supplemental first round pick. Ozuna’s defense isn’t stellar, but very serviceable. MLBTR projects him to earn $72million over four years.
Brandon: I think my preferred approach right now would be to pick up injury prone guys with talent, like James Paxton, and go nuts on smaller deals, than to go after one of the bigger free agents this year. Just not a great group, and we need more time to know where are needs are going to be greatest. But if we’re signing one, I want Realmuto. No one else is going to have the impact that he would. Not only would he be a great asset for Fetter and the young pitchers, but you get one of the few good hitting catchers in the league.
The Tigers have some young catchers they will want to get work in the years to come, at which point he can DH more to keep him healthy and sharp. He makes the most sense as a veteran leader at the key position who can help them transition back toward contendership.
Brady: Put me in the Springer and Kim camps as well. They’re good players and would make the team better. Springer has the Hinch connection and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the idea of sniping a Sox target. Obviously the big knock on him is his age — a concern Kim doesn’t have. I like the idea of signing him and putting Willi at second base with Isaac or Candy at third. Kim is a super exciting top 100 type guy who could become a huge part of the rebuild as we (hopefully) enter the final years of sucking.
Brandon: I wouldn’t mind Springer or Ozuna either, just seems a little soon for something like that. Kim is the other one that is actually really intriguing.
Ashley: I’m definitely on the JT Realmuto bandwagon, but that should come as no surprise to anyone who has been around a few years. Every offseason I want the Tigers to pick up a veteran catcher who can still perform, and last year they actually did, to an extent, with Austin Romine. I like what Realmuto can offer, especially if the team feels like Jake Rogers needs more work before he hits the majors again. With a young pitching staff coming up, having a catcher like Realmuto would be an incredible advantage to the team.
Which free agents do you think the Tigers should be looking to acquire this offseason?