We didn't sign Stephen Matz as I had hoped, but there are still several good pitchers available that fit the profile of the type of pitcher the Tigers could really use. Suppose we'll just have to wait and see if anything else happens.
Javier Baez is being suggested as a leading shortstop candidate, but we don't know if that is a smokescreen or the real deal. The stats over his career are in some ways better and some ways worse than Carlos Correa. Obviously since Correa won the Gold Glove there is reason to believe he is the better of the two as a fielder. His on-base percentage is also better than Baez, but there is that injury history that has allowed him to only play two full seasons out of his past six.
It's been suggested that Ryan Kreidler has several other teams interested in him. I still think he should be considered a serious option at shortstop in Detroit. Obviously he is more likely to struggle initially for a year or even two or three as a rookie, and who knows if he ever lives up to lofty expectations. Yet, the cost seems remarkably different from signing a prized, established free agent.
The Tigers seem really reluctant to spend too aggressively given their poor experience with Jordan Zimmerman. I get it. It was really a painful experience. The way Jonathan Schoop and even Eduardo Rodriguez have been signed seems much more reasonable. I don't think Miguel Cabrera's contract was as bad as Zimmerman's simply because he is a future Hall of Fame player, but the cost is still daunting relative to the production.
This overall experience has to impact the thinking of how to handle the top two position prospects. Spencer Torkelson didn't dominate at AAA. Riley Greene thrived but did he have enough time at AAA to say he's fully ready to make the jump to the big leagues? The outfield depth is good for the Tigers; Grossman, Baddoo, Hill, Reys, and Cameron seem capable of holding things together for at least a few months before Greene is promoted. Likewise, Cabrera, Schoop, and perhaps Candelario can handle first base until Torkelson can be installed as the full time regular there. Since the clock for controlling these players doesn't start ticking until they are promoted, it seems reasonable to wait until the time is really productive for them to be a part of the parent team.
Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matthew Manning seemed to be more prepared and ready to begin their careers in Detroit than either Greene or Torkelson. Obviously the clock for free agency may have also been a consideration, but they needed to set the stage and things were relatively desperate given the loss of Spencer Turnbull and Matthew Boyd. Fortunately, Tyler Alexander also emerged to fill one of the rotation roles, and Wily Peralta came up big too. This year the Tigers have a big four, with the hope that either Alexander or another free agent signing makes the staff very strong and balanced.
Is the bullpen set? It seems like you can never have enough there. Gregory Soto seems to be a good closer, but is the rest of the staff really as capable as it seemed, or a bit of a mirage? Doing good in one year doesn't always equate to success in the following year, but I think there is hope that the bullpen will resume its performance and get some reinforcements from the farm system as well in 2022.
I'm still pulling for a shortstop to be signed that could allow Kreidler a little more time to develop, and another starting pitcher that would allow Alexander to be a key swing long relief, spot starter. All of this shouldn't inflate the payroll much. With the loss of Niko Goodrum there should be a bit of money available, and the overall payroll is still near the bottom of baseball.