The Tigers have found their answer in left field, and it’s not the much-rumored, oft-speculated pursuit of Shin-Soo Choo. Instead, they’re prepared to go with a platoon of Andy Dirks and Rajai Davis.
The Tigers spent Tuesday working to complete an agreement with Davis on what is expected to be a two-year contract, according to sources. The team has not confirmed the agreement, as is their policy when a contract is pending a physical. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, who first reported an agreement, said the contract will be worth $10 million.
It’s a role signing for a team that was looking to upgrade its offense and saw left field as the one place it could do so. It’ll happen situationally, plugging in the speedy Davis as the right-handed hitting half of a platoon with Dirks, as well as a basestealing option in the late innings of games he doesn’t start. His .294 career average and .354 on-base percentage against lefties, including .319 and .383 last season in a part-time role with the Blue Jays, fits what the Tigers were seeking, though the production often came in streaks.
By contrast, Davis is a .255 career hitter against right-handers, including just .228 (49-for-215) with 48 strikeouts this past season.
At the same time, it’s a philosophical shift for a team that has been short on speed and wary of speedsters in their thirties. Detroit has been neither a basestealing team nor a manufactured offense type of club for several seasons, increasingly focusing their baserunning efforts on hit-and-run and first-to-third plays. The Tigers wouldn’t be signing the 33-year-old Davis for multiple seasons if they didn’t plan to use his greatest asset.
Despite just 108 games and 360 plate appearances, Davis stole 45 bases in 51 attempts in 2013, and he has racked up at least 40 steals in four of the last five seasons. Meanwhile, the Tigers stole 35 bases as a team last season, led by Austin Jackson’s eight.
The deal rules out the Tigers on Choo, if they were ever in it. Though his combination of speed, on-base percentage and arm presented potentially an ideal fit for Detroit, he’s also an ideal fit for a lot of teams. With Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano off the market, moreover, Choo stands as the top position player left, making him a hot commodity.
The Tigers’ first day at baseball’s Winter Meetings was busy, Dave Dombrowski said, with talks with teams and free-agent discussions galore. None of the free-agent talks, he cautioned, were at the top of the market.
“When I say free agents, I’m not talking about the big, big ones,” Dombrowski said late Monday afternoon, “but we’ve talked about some other people.”
By category, that would seem to rule out Shin-Soo Choo, whose agent (Scott Boras) reportedly had the Jacoby Ellsbury contract (which Boras negotiated last week) as a guidepost. By name, of course, nobody has ruled out Choo. Add in the payroll space the Tigers created by trading Prince Fielder and Doug Fister, and therein lies the mystery behind the Tigers wafting through the lobby of the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.
Could the Tigers be involved with Choo? Could they be involved at the level of competing with the other interested clubs? Dombrowski’s words at this point would suggest not. But the Prince Fielder signing a couple offseasons ago showed how sentiments can change on an owner’s decision.
If the Tigers don’t sign Choo, they have two options: They can try to swing a trade for a left fielder good enough to play everyday (preferably left-handed to balance out the lineup), or they can look for a right-handed hitter to platoon with Andy Dirks. They’re two vastly different markets.
“We’ll just see what ends up happening,” Dombrowski said. “Sometimes you have to be careful that everybody doesn’t always think there’s going to be an All-Star at every position. I mean, there are some clubs doing pretty darn well with some platoons at different spots too. So they do work at times. Just because it’s not per se an All-Star somewhere doesn’t mean that you can’t get the production that you’re looking to have out of certain spots. Sometimes they’re more productive for you.”
Of course, the Tigers had a platoon in left field this past season, and while it was productive at times, the .708 OPS Detroit’s left fielders posted ranked 11th in the 15-team American League, and last out of the playoff teams. If they’re going to have a better offense, no matter what fashion, they have to get better production out of left.
Other notes from Day 1:
- Fortifying the bullpen might end up being a waiting game. Dombrowski said they’re not in on the top end of the bullpen market right now, because those guys are looking for closer jobs, and the Tigers have already filled theirs. He has not eliminated the idea of revisiting that market once the closer jobs are filled and others are left looking for setup work. He also floated the possibility of taking a flyer on a reliever as insurance if Bruce Rondon isn’t ready.
- Nick Castellanos is taking ground balls at third base, but he’s going to get a visit from new first-base and infield coach Omar Vizquel. Manager Brad Ausmus confirmed they’re trying to set up Vizquel to travel to Castellanos’ South Florida home and work with him sometime after the holidays.
- Casey Crosby will go to Spring Training to compete for a bullpen job, rather than simply work as an insurance starter. ”We can always switch him back if we think it’s best,” Dombrowski said, “but we think right now he’s in a spot where he’s developed some. A lot of our people think he’s cut out for a bullpen role, and so that’s how we’ll bring him in.” Assistant GM Al Avila believes Crosby could be a standout reliever.
- One guy who doesn’t appear to be in line to compete for a bullpen job is Melvin Mercedes, who ended last season closing at Double-A Erie. He’s expected to open the season back there, possibly alongside promising relief prospect Corey Knebel in Knebel’s first full pro season.
- Robbie Ray, the lefty starter prospect the Tigers acquired for Doug Fister, will start next season at Triple-A Toledo. He split last season between high-A and Double-A in the Nationals system, so he’ll get a bump. If Jose Alvarez and Kyle Lobstein open the season there as expected, then the Mud Hens will have three left-handed starters, which might explain the timing behind Crosby getting a look as a reliever.
No, the Tigers were never going to sign Robinson Cano. They never had a meeting with Cano, despite the speculative story that came out a couple weeks ago. They hadn’t even been talking with Cano’s agents, centered around Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay-Z, on the phone since the offseason got rolling. They weren’t going to take on that contract.
With that part out of the way, Cano’s reported 10-year, $240 million deal to go to Seattle is about to have ripple effects in Detroit with what the Tigers are trying to do.
For one, it throws the Yankees headfirst into the remaining free-agent market with money to spend and needs to fill. It’s not just about replacing Cano at second base, but filling his spot in the middle of the order. They can fill the void with some of the remaining outfielders on the market, with Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo around the top of the list.
Speculation already had New York among the top targets for Beltran, and a potential suitor for Choo. The Yankees can now go in with no shortage of money to offer. If they want to price teams out of the market and leverage their financial flexibility to get who they want, they can. If they want to move the market to the point where teams like the Tigers worry whether they’re adding another megacontract, they can.
That’s the immediate impact. The bigger impact might be down the road whenever the Tigers enter talks on a contract extension for Miguel Cabrera, the potentially the next guy that could move the market. If a 31-year-old Cano can match Albert Pujols for the largest contract signed by a baseball player not named Alex Rodriguez, what can Cabrera — six months younger and a two-time MVP, playing a position with more longevity — command? How will Cabrera age through his 30s? And can the Tigers create enough flexibility to afford Cabrera and Max Scherzer? That’s how the market works — the latest megadeal often sets the standard for the next one.
So to recap: Even with the flexibility gained by shedding Prince Fielder’s contract and saving money in the rotation by trading Doug Fister, keeping the core of this team together is not going to be easy. And with the Tigers and Yankees now potentially looking for the same help, trying to upgrade for a World Series run now just got tougher. It might be a crazy week at the Winter Meetings after all, at least on the latter.
Get your schedule out for the last weekend in January. TigerFest returns in its usual spot near the end of the offseason. The Tigers’ annual winter warmup event is set for Saturday, Jan. 25 from 11am to 5pm at Comerica Park.
The schedule of events is familiar. Players and coaches will sign autographs in several booths set up around the park, including a kids-only line. The visiting clubhouse will feature a player photo area for fans to have their picture taken with their favorite Tigers stars. Self-guided tours will take fans into the Tigers executive offices, Ernie Harwell Media Center, luxury suite area and Champions Club. The undergoing batting tunnel will open for fans to take a few swings.
The main stage returns, including question-and-answer sessions with manager Brad Ausmus and the new coaching staff as well as members of the front office. The session with team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has become an annual state-of-the-franchise type of session, answering fan questions about offseason moves, but the highlight this year will be one of the first chances for fans to ask questions of Ausmus.
Activities for kids include a miniature Comerica Park stage featuring Tigers player book readings, games and activities, as well as free face-painting, baseball-themed games and a video game bullpen.
The Tigers have tried to take away some of the winter chill by covering and heating access areas inside Comerica Park, but fans are always encouraged to dress for the weather.
Tickets for TigerFest cost $25 for adults and $14 for kids ages 12 and under. They’ll go on sale Friday, Dec. 13 at 10am online at tigers.com/tigerfest and by phone at 866-66-TIGER.
Let’s agree on this: No matter what limitations the Tigers may or may not face, they’ll be busy at the Winter Meetings. In an era when teams can rival the Winter Meetings a week early with phone calls, emails and texts, Dave Dombrowski thrives at old-school, in-person gatherings.
They’ll be talking, Dombrowski and his front-office team. It’s just a question of what kind of market they’ll be talking about.
“It’s never boring,” Dombrowski said. “It may not be as active as it’s been the last couple weeks, just how things have happened. It’s been a very active time period. …
“What I have always found at the winter meetings is anytime you put 30 clubs together and you start talking, your scouts start talking and I’m looking at my board every single day and coming up with ideas, you try to get better. Again, I don’t know what’s going to happen. It won’t be like it has been the last couple weeks, but I know I won’t be bored.”
Those talks may or may not involve Shin-Soo Choo. Dombrowski’s statements about not being involved at the top end of the market, and the fact that so much of the market reportedly has interest in Choo, would suggest the Tigers won’t be involved there. Having just traded away a massive contract, they’re not inclined to add one back. They were not involved in the bidding on Jacoby Ellsbury, Dombrowski said.
“We’re on December 5,” Dombrowski cautioned, “but I don’t anticipate any of the major names that are being thrown out there with names attached. I don’t anticipate those being our signing.”
But they still need a left fielder. They’re looking for help, even if it isn’t necessarily top-end help.
“I’m sure we’ll have to do something in some regards, because we don’t have anybody else,” Dombrowski said. “We’re sort of limited in our outfielders at this time on our roster, because we’ve got Torii [Hunter] and Austin [Jackson] and Andy [Dirks] with Donnie Kelly being able to play out there, but we’ll have to look at something to assist us in left field, and we’ll see what that is.”
There’s a huge difference in an assistance in left field and a left fielder. If the Tigers are looking for somebody to assist Dirks, the assistance is going to be a right-handed hitter. If the Tigers look for a full-time left fielder, the preference would almost surely be a left-handed hitter to balance out of the lineup. While the Tigers starting lineup itself is heavy on right-handed hitters, the outfield options are predominantly lefty. Nick Castellanos would’ve been the right-handed hitting option in left field, but he’s now in line to be the third baseman.
Between the desire against a massive contract and the batting needs, you can make the case that the better free-agent fit for the Tigers is Carlos Beltran and not Choo. He’s a switch-hitter, and with his 37th birthday coming up next April, he’s not going to command a five- or six-year contract. At this point, the stretch will be to get him three years. But with the Royals, his original team, and the Yankees reportedly heavily involved, wooing him might not be doable.
If the Tigers can’t go into that market, the middle market of outfielders has its options too, with Michigan native Nate McLouth among them. But he’s a left-handed hitter with a history of struggles against left-handed pitching, and again, the Tigers don’t have a right-handed hitting option to mix with him. You can see where the goals might drastically change depending on what the Tigers are looking for.
I’ve developed a tradition the last few years of bringing trail mix to the Winter Meetings. It’s an easy, cheap way to keep going during long days without having to sit down and eat overpriced resort food. At first read, the Joe Nathan signing and Dombrowski’s quotes about staying out of the top end of the market would’ve suggested there shouldn’t be long days. The more you think about it, though, the more of a mystery the market becomes.
Long story short, I bought a second bag of trail mix for this year’s meetings. Probably going to need it.
Hours after the Tigers freed up more money on their payroll and promised they weren’t done dealing, they went about spending some of it on a closer. The reigning American League Central champions have an agreement with Joe Nathan on a reported two-year contract worth $20 million, and will introduce their new closer at a 3:30pm press conference at Comerica Park.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network and CBSSports.com reported a two-year deal in the works Tuesday after FOXSports.com reported the two sides nearing an agreement. The move addresses the top priority Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski took into the offseason, and kept at the top after trading Prince Fielder to Texas two weeks ago and Doug Fister to Washington Monday night.
“We hope to get a closer and we’re still trying to do that,” Dombrowski said Monday night, “so that will be our number one need and it’ll continue to be until we find someone.”
That didn’t take long. The Tigers had their share of candidates on the open market, topped by Nathan and Brian Wilson, but a slow-moving segment of free agency. The market finally came together Tuesday, with Wilson reportedly in talks to re-sign with the Dodgers. The Tigers had been in discussions with Wilson, MLB.com learned, before those talks broke off Monday.
Interest in Nathan included a recruiting pitch from Torii Hunter, his Twins teammate from 2004 to 2007. Hunter, not surprisingly, was ecstatic about the news.
“We needed him,” Hunter wrote Tuesday in a text message to MLB.com. “I had to sell the vision of winning it all to him.”
If a proven closer was the goal, Nathan is the guy. He has saved 340 games over the last 10 years and owns 341 saves over s 13-year Major League career. The vast majority of those saves came with the Minnesota Twins during their reign over the Tigers atop the AL Central.
Nathan has never blown a save against the Tigers, going 36-for-36 in his opportunities while allowing just 33 hits over 62 2/3 innings with 23 walks and 75 strikeouts. For that matter, Nathan has converted 90 percent of his save chances over his career, the highest conversion rate of any Major League pitcher with at least 200 career saves, just ahead of Mariano Rivera.
Just as important, at age 38, his statistics remained strong. He allowed 10 runs on 36 hits over 64 2/3 innings with 22 walks and 73 strikeouts for the Texas Rangers this past season, racking up 43 saves in the process.
Nathan pitched three consecutive days on four different occasions this past season, and pitched four days in a row twice down the stretch. The one restriction the Rangers had on him was that he rarely pitched multiple innings in a game.
The Tigers made the two biggest trades of the offseason to date to create flexibility out of a top-five payroll. They wouldn’t address the reinvestment end of that money until they took care of their most pressing need and signed a closer. Now that Joe Nathan is about to become a Tiger, it’s time, and the Tigers might well spend it making one good run at one of the biggest free agents on the market again.
Both Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com report the Tigers have shown interest in multi-tooled Shin-Soo Choo, the most prominent left-handed hitting outfielder available now that Jacoby Ellsbury is headed to the Yankees. Feinsand cites a source that Choo is Detroit’s top free-agent target.
Choo fits the profile of hitter the Tigers are known to be seeking, balancing out a predominantly right-handed hitting lineup while also adding speed and on-base percentage back into Detroit’s offense. The Tigers saw him up-close for years in Cleveland, where he was a teammate of Detroit DH Victor Martinez. And unlike other speedy leadoff hitters who have hit the market, hitters the Tigers have traditionally judged on how their game would mature as they age and lose speed, Choo brings a skill set that doesn’t hinge on his speed.
The question for the Tigers with Choo is financial, how far they’re willing or able to go to sign him. They just shed the burden of a megacontract by trading Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler. With several players nearing free agency, Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera foremost among them, they can’t afford to put themselves in the same bind, though Choo isn’t expected to approach the nine-year deal Fielder signed with the Tigers two winters ago.
First things first: it’s rarely a good idea to judge winners and losers in a trade minutes after a trade is announced. For one thing, it’s hard to judge prospects and their impact so immediately. More important, it’s better to judge a trade’s context in the bigger picture of a team’s entire offseason.
What made trading Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson work for the Tigers wasn’t just the talent they got in return, from Max Scherzer to Austin Jackson to Phil Coke. It was the payroll it freed up for Detroit to sign Jose Valverde a month later, and extend Justin Verlander’s contract a couple weeks after that. Taken in context, a trade that at first signaled the closing of the Tigers’ contending ways ended up extending their window for several more years.
If the Tigers do end up re-signing Scherzer — still not a safe assumption, but no longer a lost cause — along with Miguel Cabrera and add a closer plus another bat, the trade takes on a different light. Dombrowski, for his part, insisted they’re not cost-cutting.
“We’re not cutting payroll,” he said. “We have a very, very hefty payroll. It’s one of the highest in baseball and it’s going to continue to be that way.”
Second point: Hard-throwing left-handed pitchers are always going to draw Dave Dombrowski’s attention. Always. It’s like Charlie Brown and The Little Red-Haired Girl. In this case, lefty starting prospect Robbie Ray looms as that guy.
“He’s the key piece,” one American League talent evaluator texted Monday night after news of the trade spread. He graded Ray as a legit prospect, potentially a third or fourth starter.
Ray was Washington’s seventh-rated prospect by MLB.com’s rankings, but he’d rank higher on Detroit’s list. That’s because trades, injuries and call-ups had so depleted the pitching depth in the organization that four of the five pitchers on Baseball Prospectus’ Tigers top 10 rankings released earlier Monday had been drafted in the last year and a half. Only Drew VerHagen had pitched above Low-A ball. None of them are left-handed.
“We have depleted our starting pitcher [depth] because we made some deals at the upper levels,” Dombrowski said. “You look at some arms that we’ve moved and again you can’t have everything. We have depleted ourselves in that regard and we don’t feel we have anybody knocking on the door other than Smyly. We did address that ourselves internally by drafting a lot of starting pitchers in the draft and a lot of college pitchers who we feel can move quickly.”
The more Dombrowski talked about Ray, the more he sounded like he had just acquired an impact pitcher in the big leagues. With a low to mid-90s fastball and the makings of a four-pitch arsenal, Ray’s stuff has the Tigers thinking highly of him.
“I think it was a key for us,” Dombrowski said of Ray’s inclusion. “It’s not only what you see in the minors. You see throughout Major League Baseball that young starting pitchers that are on the verge of pitching in the big leagues and being No. 3 or better starters, they’re hard to find and they’re becoming harder to deal [for].
“We felt it was important to get a guy who was knocking on our door to pitch at the big league level. We think this guy’s a premium young left-handed pitcher on the verge of pitching in the big leagues, and they’re not easy to find.”
Lastly, the longer this offseason continues, the more the Tigers look and act like a team that’s looking beyond the next year or two for a window. It doesn’t mean the win-now mentality has died, but it definitely signals at least an attempt to keep a winning team on the field for the future.
It began with the Jose Iglesias trade in July. It continued with the hiring of a first-time manager who not only hasn’t managed before, but whose playing career ended just a few years ealier. It continued with the Fielder trade, freeing up millions of dollars over the next seven years.
The future mentality hit its stride, though, with the Doug Fister deal. Detroit filled immediate needs in lefty relief and utility infield, but it now has its replacement for Scherzer if he leaves next winter, or Rick Porcello if he leaves a year later.
Hard to tell what it means for the franchise going forward, though a bloated payroll and an aging roster seem like two things they’re now trying to avoid. It seems like a strong hint, though, that the Tigers are now trying to extend their window of contention once more against a potentially aging roster and several superstar contracts. It could be a nod towards keeping this team in contention long enough to negotiate a new cable deal in a few years and reap the benefits other clubs are now enjoying. It could be an acknowledgement that keeping this
team pitching staff together past the next year or two is fiscally impossible, given the escalating prices on pitching (though the Tigers didn’t have any talks with Fister about a contract extension, according to a source). Remember, collecting young, cost-controlled pitching (signing Verlander before free agency, trading for Scherzer and Fister) is how this team was built. Add Sanchez to that trio, and four of MLB’s top nine pitchers in Wins Above Replacement over the last three years wore Tigers uniforms according to Fangraphs. That same quartet also owned four of the top 21 spots in Fielding Independent Pitching over that same stretch.
Whatever it is, you can sense a shift in mentality helping provide a push.
The Tigers are no longer a team with six starting pitchers for five spots. What they are without Doug Fister in their rotation remains to be seen. Detroit pulled off its second major trade in two weeks Monday night, sending Fister to the Nationals for lefty reliever Ian Krol, infielder/outfielder Steve Lombardozzi and lefty starting prospect Robbie Ray.
The move adds more flexibility on the Tigers payroll while adding some badly-needing young arms to a Tigers system that had been low on left-handed pitching. The immediate impact on the Tigers for next year, however, might not be known until the Tigers are done dealing this offseason.
It’s not a deal that addresses several short-term needs, as might have been anticipated had Detroit dealt reigning AL Cy Young winner and potential 2014 free agent Max Scherzer as rumors suggested earlier this offseason. Instead, the return package fills some smaller holes now and some long-term concerns later, while providing another sign the Tigers will try to keep the rest of their rotation intact, Scherzer included.
Fister was one of three Tigers starters who were arbitration eligible with free agency on the horizon. Like fellow starter Rick Porcello, he was two years away from free agency with a salary that was heading up. He was projected to make $6.9 million in arbitration according to MLB Trade Rumors.
However, Fister delivered as a Tiger, going 32-20 with a 3.29 ERA in 68 Tiger starts and two relief appearances. His 8-1 record and 1.79 ERA down the stretch in 2011 reflected his significant role in helping the Tigers to their first of three consecutive American League Central titles. Those numbers leveled out over the next two seasons, but his 14-9 record, 3.67 ERA and 208 2/3 innings pitched this year reflected a workhorse role within a loaded Tigers rotation.
In the postseason, meanwhile, Fister was a cornerstone of the dominant pitching that led Detroit to four postseason series wins over the last three years. His 3-2 record and 2.98 ERA in eight career playoff appearances includes a sub-2 ERA in the ALCS and World Series. He picked up only one playoff win the last two years, but delivered six quality starts in as many outings in that stretch, including six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts against the Red Sox.
Drew Smyly, who spent this past season as a lefty setup reliever, will slot into Fister’s old rotation spot, giving Detroit a lefty starter. With his pre-arbitration salary, the move will shed about $6.4 million from team payroll. The rest of the rotation is expected to remain intact for next year while the Tigers try to pursue long-term deals.
Smyly’s relief role, meanwhile, will be filled by Krol, who broke into the big leagues this year as a young lefty setup man. The 22-year-old wasn’t a specialist, though left-handed hitters batted .220 (11-for-50) against him with one home run, four walks and 10 strikeouts.
Lombardozzi is a switch-hitting, contact-batting role player with decent speed who can play infield and outfield. He batted .259 with 15 doubles, two home runs and 22 RBIs in 118 games for the Nationals in 2013.
The key arm in the deal, however, might end up being Ray, a hard-throwing lefty starter who ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the Nationals system from MLB.com’s midseason prospect rankings. The 22-year-old went 11-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 27 starts between high Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg, allowing 116 hits over 142 innings with 62 walks and 160 strikeouts.
Ray isn’t expected to compete for a Major League job right away anywhere on the staff, likely needing more seasoning at Double-A this coming year. In a system that has traded away several starting prospects over the past few years, however, he provides a much-needed youth infusion.
Nearly two decades after Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker made their place in history as one of baseball’s best double-play combinations, the Tigers will field a middle-infield tandem with the same jersey numbers. The team announced Monday on Twitter that their new second baseman, Ian Kinsler, will wear Trammell’s famous number 3.
The team expects Kinsler to man second base opposite shortstop Jose Iglesias, who donned Whitaker’s old number 1 when he became a Tiger at last summer’s Trade Deadline. The numbers should look familiar, albeit in reverse order, to Tigers fans who watched Trammell and Whitaker as teammates up the middle for nearly 20 years, from 1977 into the early ’90s. The two set an American League record for appearing in 1,918 games as teammates, and turned more double plays than any middle-infield tandem in Major League history.
Given their longevity and their success, the fact that any player can still wear those numbers on a Tigers uniform has always been a difficult topic in Detroit. The Tigers have only retired the jersey numbers of Hall of Famers with the exception of Willie Horton’s number 23. The Hall of Fame voting process has not been kind to Whitaker, who was knocked off the ballot after one year, or Trammell, who has not yet come close to the 75 percent selection needed for induction.
That said, no Tiger has worn number 47 since Jack Morris, a teammate of Trammell and Whitaker from 1977 to 1990. He has come closer to induction than any other 1984 Tiger, but still needs a boost this year in his 15th and final time on the ballot.
While Iglesias became the first player since Whitaker to wear number 1 in Detroit, Kinsler won’t be the first number 3 in Detroit since Trammell. Gary Sheffield donned the number during his Tiger tenure in 2007 and 2008.
Kinsler’s old number 5, which he wore for all eight of his seasons in Texas, is off limits in Detroit. That number was retired with Hank Greenberg, so Kinsler needed a new number. He wore number 22 at the University of Missouri.