The Tigers' acquisition of Sawyer Gipson-Long got me thinking about the 40-man roster and what it will look like after the season. Gipson-Long is apparently Rule 5 eligible and will need to be added to the roster if they are thinking about keeping him. But what other moves are they going to have to consider?
Right now, with the designation of Derek Law for assignment and the addition of Luis Castillo in his place, the 40-man roster is full. And there are four players on the 60-day IL that will need to be reinstated either before or just after the end of the season: Jake Rogers, Kyle Funkhouser, Casey Mize and Spencer Turnbull. It appears likely Rogers will be given a call-up in September if he is healthy (Turnbull is apparently not going to return until next spring). It also appears possible that the Tigers will give Ryan Kreidler and/or Kerry Carpenter a late-season look. So they will probably need to free up two or three roster spots before the end of the season. Beyond Zack Short and possibly Brendon Davis, I am struggling to think of who might need to be cut. DeJesus, maybe, or Bryan Garcia (again). I really think they want to hang onto Ali Sanchez if they can but depth catchers are not hard to sign in the off-season. And the jury is really out on Elvin Rodriguez but I would guess he is safe for now.
To complicate matters, by sometime in November the team is also going to have to decide which non-roster players who are Rule 5 eligible will need to be protected. There are a ton of players in the system who were already eligible and not protected (last year (which did not matter because the draft was cancelled). Of that group, I only see Wenceel Perez as a guy they might want to think about protecting this time around.
There are also a bunch of players who will be eligible for the first time this year. Of that group, the ones most likely to need protection are the aforementioned Messrs. Gipson-Long, Kreidler and Carpenter, plus Reese Olson, Parker Meadows, Austin Bergner, Andre Lipcius and possibly Zack Hess. Given the state of the roster, I really only see them protecting Kreidler and Carpenter (assuming they have not already been added to the roster) plus Gipson-Long, Olson and maybe one more player, either Perez or Meadows. Still, that is at least three additional roster spots they will need to clear after the end of the season, no later than the November deadline.
Finally, there is the question of possible off-season trade acquisitions. I will be shocked if the Tigers do not add at least one bat, possibly two at some point in the off-season. It is possible those deals will not happen until after the first of the year, but remember how aggressive they were last off-season? It is possible that they will put together a trade that fills a need without needing to open up a roster spot. But I am guessing they will need to clear at least one roster spot for a free-agent signing at some point in the off-season.
So where, you might ask, will they find roster spots for all these additional players? Well, first, of the remaining players on the current 40-man roster, four are on one-year deals: Drew Hutchison, Wily Peralta, Michael Pineda and Tucker Barnhart. You can assume the pitchers, at least, will not be returning unless it is on a minor league deal later in the off-season. So that is three spots, at least, or maybe four if they decide to roll with Eric Haase and Rogers, Dillon Dingler(who is not currently Rule 5 eligible) or Sanchez for next season.
There are six arbitration-eligible players this off-season: Jeimer Candelario, Jose Cisnero, Joe Jimenez, Spencer Turnbull, Harold Castro and Victor Reyes. Any of them except probably Turnbull might conceivably be non-tendered. Without getting into who should or should not be tendered arbitration, for this exercise I am going to assume they are going to want to hang onto the arb-eligible players for now, even if they might ultimately be traded or replaced. If I am wrong about that, one could see them freeing up a roster spot or two by non-tendering someone.
After the season, Hutch, Pineda and Peralta will be replaced by Turnbull, Mize and Funkhouser. But that leaves them needing to create at least four, and possibly five or six spots for guys that need to be protected plus any free agents they want to sign. To do that, they will need to either DFA or non-tender players currently on the roster, or engineer a trade that nets an open roster spot (two for one, or established player for a prospect).
Trades aside, the possible additional subtraction candidates (besides the veteran pitchers and whoever they DFA to make room for Rogers, Kreidler and Carpenter) would be any of the arbitration-eligible players except Turnbull, plus Barnhart, Jonathan Schoop, Willi Castro, DeJesus, BGarcia, Elvin Rodriquez and Castillo. It is way too early to guess as to how this will all play out. It will be an interesting off-season.