This edition of who’s coming, who’s going, and opinions on what the Tigers should do moving forward.
Departing – 2B Placido Polanco (3-year deal w/ Phillies), RHP Fernando Rodney (FA – signed, LAA), RHP Brandon Lyon (FA – signed HOU), LHP Jarrod Washburn (FA), INF/OF Aubrey Huff (FA), OF Marcus Thames (FA), CF Curtis Granderson (traded to NYY), RHP Edwin Jackson (traded to ARI)
Arriving – LHP Phil Coke (from NYY), LHP Daniel Schlereth (from ARI), CF Austin Jackson (from NYY), RHP Max Scherzer (from ARI)
Synopsis – The Tigers made major headlines in the past couple weeks dealing two All-Star players, Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson, to the Yankees and Diamondbacks. Unlike the typical proven veteran for a wealth of minor league prospects-type deal, the Tigers netted two three young pitchers who already have significant Major League experience, and a CF in Austin Jackson who some say could be better than Granderson (some, not me). The two lefties, Coke and Schleref, are huge for the Tigers who are struggling to find a power lefty out of the pen, relying in the past on soft-tossing left-handed specialists like Bobby Seay, Fu Te-Ni, and Clay Rapada. Scherzer, on the other hand, is a prospect as good or better than Edwin Jackson and will immediately go into Jackson’s vacant spot in the rotation without missing a beat. The CF Jackson, just 22, hit .300 in triple-A last year and stole 24 bases – he will never have the pop that Granderson has, but the value in the combination of Jackson and Coke is as good or greater than Granderson. This deal is a big win for the Tigers.
What else can the Tigers do this off-season? Not much. They are drowning in a sea of bad contracts with LHP Dontrelle Willis ($10m), LHP Nate Robertson ($7m), 3B Brandon Inge ($6.3m), LF/1B Carlos Guillen ($10m), and RHP Jeremy Bonderman ($12.5m). The only good news is in 2011 they previous mentioned will leave and take around $50 million off the books with them, but they will handcuff the Tigers to do anything significant on the free agent market for the 2010 season. Don’t look for the Tigers to be players for anything outside of the bargin bin this off-season.
That means that the Tigers are going to have to try and fill significant roles of departing free agents with rookies in 2010. The assumption at 2nd base is Scott Sizemore will inherit the starting job to replace Placido Polanco, and my guess is while Fernando Rodney was offered arbitration by the Tigers, RHP Ryan Perry will be asked to set-up as the closer next spring.
Projected Finish (12/26/09) – 3rd place AL Central. The White Sox continue to make huge strides by being extremely aggressive in the free agent market and Jake Peavy alone will help put them over the take and back in the playoffs. The Twins are the Twins – they will finish in second – followed by Tigers, Indians, and Royals.