I think it seems that money talks and just how much of it is spent on players does make a difference. Of course, if you have very young talent you can avoid star level salaries, but you also run the risk of more likely losing them. (Some teams go the extra mile to sign their young talent to longer term contracts - that should be something the Tigers look at, imo.)
I use spotrac.com as my reference for contracts. It is a comprehensive resource for all sport salaries. I endorse it for use by any fan that wants to be in the know about how well a team is staffed and paying to be competitive in their sport.
In 2024, Miguel Cabrera is expected to be retired and no longer on the payroll. Therefore the only known commitments made contractually by the Tigers are for Eduardo Rodriguez for $18M and Javier Baez for $25M. As we all know, ERod has an opt out option in his contract, so this salary is not really as fixed of a commitment as it may seem.
Spotrac counts Cabrera as an additional salary in 2024 but this is not likely. Furthermore, since ERod could opt out, the only certain commitment contractually is for Baez's $25M. Comparing this to the rest of baseball is pretty interesting and perhaps enlightening:
Oakland has 4 players under contract in 2024 for a total of $22M. Pittsburgh has 3 players signed for $20.5M. Baltimore has 3 players signed for $18.1M. These three teams are the only teams committed to less than the Tigers. If we count just Baez the Tigers have the least number of contracts in all of baseball for 2024.
Is Detroit an ULTRA SMALL MARKET CAP team? At the other end of the spectrum the Mets top the money list at about $262M in commitments, followed by the Phillies at $194M, the Yankees at $189M, the Cubs at $182M, the Padres at $172M, the Braves at $167M, the White Sox at $156M, the Rangers at $150M, and with an overall MLB average, that includes the four aforementioned low spenders, coming in at $109M. Of course removing the four ULTRA SMALL MARKET teams identified, the average would be about $123M.
I suppose a valid argument can be made that our players haven't earned long term lucrative contracts yet. Injuries have marred their progression to be sure. Performance has also been a factor. Still to be competitive, it is essential to fielding enough talent that in part is based to a great degree you are willing to pay for it. So what conclusions or concerns can you reach from looking at this pay level comparison?