I would venture to guess that most all Tigers fans are hoping Harris improves this team and can turn it into a winner. Yea, kind of like saying the sun rises in the east. But the eternal debate is how aggressive should Harris be in the free agent market this year vs next year and beyond. We know it will take a lot to make the 2023 Tigers into a winner, maybe more than can be done in just one off season. And given Harris's comments about strengthening our team internally as a main focus for now it seems like major free agent signings are not in the offing this off season. This team will need improvement through development of our young players, trades and free agents to become a winning team. So no one area is a panacea. But taking a look at this year's market vs next year's market may offer insight into what maybe the Tigers will do this year, or at least offer fans something to debate.
So I bring you next year's FA market as a place to start that debate (see link below). I think one could easily make the argument that the Tigers should be more aggressive this year and not next year given how these markets look. In comparing them there is potential help in both years for the Tigers. Let's look at a couple of positions of possible need.
In regard to pitching, plenty in both years so no worries there. In regards to the OF, plenty of minor help and fill in role type players so no reason to go nuts this year vs next year with the possible exception of CF. IF the Tigers truly want to move Greene to a corner sooner rather than later, then Tigers have to go get Nimmo. Next year's market is thin in CF and this year's market outside of Nimmo is mostly fill in types which hopefully will also be available in 2024 if needed. Parker Meadows is a much better defensive OF than Greene (who is pretty good) and also can cover more ground. But he has to hit and just started doing that this year. So he isn't going to help us for at least 1-2 more years, if ever. So Tigers either have to commit to Greene in CF for a few seasons at least or go find someone now.
The catching market is also worth taking a look at this year vs next. So far, next year's market is full of older guys that would be at best compliments to a good young catcher. Tigers could go that way if they feel Dingler or Josh Crouch are the catchers of the future. But if they want a front line back stop now and for the future where they don't have to wait to see if these guys develop, then go get Contreras this year.
Infield also presents a nice contrast. If you want a middle IF then this would be the year to go get one. Plenty of SS on the market that would help us now and into the future. Would be a hedge against Baez opting out and would solidify both SS and 2B if he stays as one could play SS and one play 2B. Even in the short term one could play 3B or move Schoop to 3B. Schoop is in his last year of his contract as well. So if Schoop stinks again and Baez opts out at least we have a SS going forward. Then if the younger players develop so be it but if not we could get a fill in for 2024. A few good ones like Whit Merrifield. But next year is thin on real impactful middle IF. Tim Anderson has a ridiculously low team option so unless he absolutely stinks, Sox keep him. Amed Rosaro from Cleveland is THE big middle IF guy and that is it. Now 3B is a different story. No really good long term options this year but some possible fill in types. Next year however, Matt Chapman and Rafael Devers both hit the market. Devers is the real catch here as he hits for average and power. Chapman lower average but a good OBP, hits for power and plays GG caliber 3B as well.
It will be interesting to see how Harris attacks things. Being the new head honcho he is a bit of an unknown. But that does not stop us from speculating what he might do or do what fans have always done: "If I were in charge I would do..." part of the fun. So what fun would you have with this? How would you approach this year vs next year in the free agent market?