Detroit Tigers (64-98), 5th in the AL Central
Free Agents: RHP Anibal Sanchez
The Tigers had a rough 2017 to say the least. They had intentions of competing for a division title and making the playoffs with a veteran crew, even though management had said last offseason that they needed to get younger and shed payroll.
But, when the losses started to pile up, reality started to sink in for the Tigers that they had to think about the future. As a result, they dealt high-priced ace Justin Verlander, outfielders Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez, and reliever Justin Wilson plus got rid of closer Francisco Rodriguez. In addition, they did not bring back Brad Ausmus as manager and decided to hire ex-Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to coach the team as it goes through this rebuild.
Now that the offseason is officially underway, the Tigers’ main priority will be to find “bargains” in free agency, Detroit general manager Al Avila said to Evan Woodbery of MLive.com. They are going to look for players who will sign one-year deals at the MLB level or minor-league deals in which they will be invited to spring training and try to make the team that way. The biggest needs would be in either center field or starting pitcher after trading away Upton and Verlander. Avila said the Tigers may not start signing anybody until January, making the next two months most likely quiet in Detroit on that front.
Another big priority is trying to find the right deals for veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler and/or shortstop Jose Iglesias, according to Woodbery. The Tigers have tried to trade both infielders, but kept them instead of settling for any trade. Kinsler is set to make $11 million after his option vested for having over 600 plate appearances in 2017, while Iglesias stands to make around $6 million after arbitration. They will both be free agents after the season. The Tigers have future successors at those spots (shortstop Dixon Machado and second baseman Dawel Lugo), which makes it imperative for them to get a good return on Kinsler, Iglesias or both.
Also, will they bring back starter Anibal Sanchez? The Tigers declined Sanchez’s $16 million option on Oct. 20 after the right-hander went 3-7 with a 6.41 ERA this year and has performed terribly in the past three seasons overall. But, Sanchez does eat up a lot of innings, so would it make sense for the Tigers to sign him to a cheap deal?
Moreover, the Tigers have 10 players eligible for arbitration and several could be non-tender candidates. The Tigers will probably tender a contract if they believe a player can help them in a trade in the future. But, they have to decide which players would be worth offering a contract or not because they already have $102 million in guaranteed money on the books for 2018.