I think many of us are guilty of this "living in the past" of Tiger’s trades and draft mistakes and it really just all needs to stop. As an organization, Harris has systematically brought the Tiger’s into the modern world. He understands analytics, he embraces challenges and new ideas. He will of course make mistakes along the way and the nay sayers and pundits will have their pound of flesh. However, hanging onto all of the baggage of Al Avila and the decimated minor league system he inherited, is simply not healthy or productive. It’s interesting to point out that Boston fired Dave Dombrowski after he won a World Series for them because Henry didn’t like the way he gutted the farm system. He basically hired the guy knowing what he was and then fired him for what he was. Now, they would love to have him back!
I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out Harris’s next move because he has many moving parts and this offseason could be very boring because the Tiger’s simply are not ready to go all in. Why? Harris doesn’t truly know his core yet. Sure we are all getting a glimpse at a few new pitchers, Meadows looks like a GEM of an outfielder and it’s just a matter of time that the Colt Keith and Justin Henry Malloy prospects get to try to make the team out of spring training. This offseason the Tiger’s will be shedding a ton of money off the books but that only means Mr Illitch will be keeping his head above water on an operating basis. I think Harris will spend some of that savings on pitchers who like the idea of the one year deal bounce back contract. Chris Fetter has a reputation of resurrecting frustrated and broken pitchers so Harris will find a few of those guys. Harris will no doubt get offers on Skubal trying to get him on the cheap but I don’t think Harris bites just yet. If Skubal gets off to a hot start, stays healthy, his value will go up. Additionally, if the Tigers are really making a play to win the division, it would be nearly impossible to pry him from the Tigers.
Is Harris ready to gamble? Okay, let’s play this game. What does a Harris gamble look like? Does he trade one of his young up and coming players who have not yet hit stardom? Greene? Torkelson? Jobe? Keith? See what I am saying? Harris doesn’t know his core yet and he can’t gamble this offseason without knowing who he wants and who he can trade. The Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez situations will be resolved rather quickly in the offseason. Rodriguez will opt in or out rather quickly so let’s say soon after the World Series. Javier Baez will probably be the first to opt in because he’s not going anywhere and leaving all that cash on the table. Javier Baez might be the very first guy to declare in the entire league!
Realistic expectations are as follows: Harris finds a couple of pitchers that could be bounce back candidates. Unlike last year, the league has taken notice that the Tiger’s are starting to make some noise. They have seen up close that Greene, Torkelson, Carpenter make a pretty nice trio. The one trade I think it necessary based on three years of data, is Akil Baddoo. The Yankees would love to have a guy like him that can hit cheap homers to RF and can run around the bases. I don’t think Akil is a good enough OF nor does he get on base enough so he doesn’t fit Harris’s mantra. The Yankees have some extra INF prospects so if they can get one of those back for him it would be great. If Harris can find a buyer for Javier Baez that makes him like a 5 million to 8 million player, then Harris can find a SS with a trade or two. He might even consider someone in the organization to fill that role temporarily. Illitch might not like eating the Javier Baez contract but with 100 million coming off the books, I don’t know that he’s going to be too upset to rid themselves of a player that doesn’t fit the team timeline or the new Harris strategy of controlling the strike zone. Javier Baez plays excellent defense and is hitting over .300 RISP so he’s not as bad as everyone thinks but will never live up to that contract. Florida is looking for a SS so if the Tigers eat enough of that contract, Florida might bite.
At the end of the day, we all have to forget about the horrible Al Avila trades, the depleted minor league system Dave D left Al Avila and just concentrate on the here and now. Harris’s organization has developed many prospects they inherited so the 2024 team will mostly be comprised of Al Avila acquired players and Al Avila draft picks. He’s sitting back and watching the rise of Carpenter, Greene, Mize, Skubal, Manning, Torkelson, Meadows, Keith, Gipson-Long, Briske, Olson, Faedo, and is feeling pretty good. If you look at the entire 40 man roster and those about to be added to the 40 man roster, it is filled with Al Avila guys. Now, you can play this chicken or the egg theory all day long but you can’t just dismiss what is happening. Is it Harris’s organization and development of these players or was it Al Avila’s organization to identify these players? Could be a combination of both but since the Dodgers do not draft high every single year, I am going to go with Harris’s organization as the prime reason these guys developed and give Al Avial a slight tip of the cap as well. Look, I am not an Al Avila’s apologist. He walked into a bad situation and made some very awful trades of some highly talented players. He was under the gun and the buyer’s knew he had to sell so he got shit back in return. They could smell the desperation on Avila’s breath every time he spoke.
Don’t expect any big roster altering moves this off season but as the trading deadline nears in 2024 and the Tiger’s are not in contention, you might see some bigger moves. If they are in contention, things could get really interesting as well because then they become buyers.
Jackson Jobe and Jace Jung will become what JHM, Meadows, Keith were this year. You will hear the rumblings get louder as Jung gets promoted to AAA and Jobe dominates AA. The question will remain, will Harris bring these guys up or let them simmer a bit longer?