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Monday Tigers News: Welcome to the Winter Meetings

We look at what the Tigers might try to accomplish at the winter meetings this week, Willi Castro’s place in the organization, and some interesting baseball litigation.

2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

In a normal world, a bunch of baseball folks would be in Dallas Texas today for the start of the winter meetings, kicking off one of the busiest weeks of the off season. This year the meetings are being held virtually. It should be interesting to see how Zoom meetings where various GMs can’t figure out how to turn on video or unmute themselves before they talk effects the hotness of the stove for trade purposes. I would imagine if teams want to deal, the method by which they negotiate, unless it’s by carrier pigeon, isn’t going to slow things down too much. If you’re looking to trade this week, you should still be able to make it happen. Unless you’re trying to get Zack Wheeler from the Phillies.

Winter meetings

You might be wondering what the winter meetings are going to look like for the Tigers. If there is one thing that seems to be readily available on the free agent market it’s left handed corner outfield power bats. Jason Beck at thinks that as names start coming off the board, Detroit has a good chance to fill one of their corner spots with someone eager to sign a one-year deal and play for a bounce back season.

Also of note for this year’s Winter Meetings is that it is currently shaping up to be the first time the Tigers haven’t participated in the Rule 5 draft since 2015. It might speak to the development of the farm system over the past several years and the belief that the organization doesn’t believe they’ll get anything better than what they’re currently working with. We could also see someone get designated for assignment in the next few days so Detroit could jump in if they wanted to.

Evan Petzold at The Detroit Free Press lists the off season priorities for the Tigers at locating starting pitching, an impact bat, a catcher, and a middle infielder. AJ Hinch and Al Avila have both given lip service to bringing in new blood this off season, and the team, in theory, has money to spend. I guess we’ll see if any of it gets spent this week.

Where Willi play?

Despite his strong offensive showing in the limited 2020 season, Willi Castro has not yet been guaranteed a spot for the 2021 season. It’s not that he hasn’t earned the opportunity to play a full time role in the upcoming season, it’s just that the team has yet to determine what that role will be. Castro has experience all over the infield, and has even done a little work getting familiar with playing in the outfield. He has been a bit better in some spots than in others. He played the bulk of his games this season at shortstop where he put up a ghastly negative seven defensive runs saved in 26 starts there.

There are a couple things that will determine where he eventually plays, but none as big as what the team decides to do regarding the free agent market. The players currently not on the roster will most certainly have more to do with where we see Castro than anything else that happens this off season.

MLB litigation corner

A couple novel lawsuits have cropped up over the past several days involving both minor and major league baseball. First out of the gate is the now former minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees, the Staten Island Yankees, suing their former parent club for breach of contract. The thrust of the argument here is that the New York Yankees, by unilaterally ending their affiliation with Staten Island, has violated certain contractual obligations and promises made to the minor league club upon which they had relied, and has caused economic harm to the Staten Island team. Staten Island states that they were promised by the Yankees that they would always be an affiliate, and that the current situation would force them to field an inferior product. The club has shut down operations and is asking for $20 million in damages in their suit. The likelihood of this suit going much of anywhere is pretty slim, but good on Staten Island for putting up a fight.

Second is a bit of a bigger deal. Major League Baseball and all of it’s 30 teams are suing their insurance providers asking them to pay out billions of dollars for losses incurred because of the coronavirus pandemic. Similar suits at smaller scales have been dismissed prior to this due to certain exemptions from coverage for things like a global pandemic, but MLB is making what is an interesting, but likely unsuccessful characterization of the virus in their complaint. They are basically saying the physical existence of droplets in the air and on the surfaces in the various major league facilities has caused “direct physical damage to physical property and ambient air at the premises.” I don’t think that dog will hunt, but we’ll see how it shakes out.

Around the horn

Spencer Kieboom built his life around baseball, then he quietly walked away. The most intriguing landing spots for MLBs top free agents. Despite his 2020 season, Joc Pederson is still a solid player. Old friend alert: The Baltimore Orioles trade Jose Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels.