November 11th, 2009

Dombrowski: Tigers aren't having a fire sale

As the GM meetings rumor mill began to swirl around the Tigers Wednesday, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski wanted to dispel a notion that popped up.

“We’re not having a fire sale,” he said by phone Wednesday.

He was surprised the question came up, in fact, and he thought it was a rather ridiculous question. Still, given the buzz coming out of the meetings on Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson, it had to be asked.

Others gave no impression of a looming payroll purge, either, so far as they knew. Agents who have talked with the Tigers, too, suggested that wasn’t their understanding, though they didn’t claim to have an intricate knowledge of the team’s plans.

The impression that came out today was that of a team that needs to get creative to look for ways to improve a team that didn’t win the AL Central while having a lot of money tied into untradeable contracts. So they have to look at what the tradeable contracts can get them. One source suggested that after a season like the Tigers had, they could listen to interest on a lot of their players, that the notion of untouchable players was questionable.

So on Jackson and Granderson, and maybe Gerald Laird, maybe even others, they’re going to listen and discuss. If you look at it, they don’t have a whole lot of other players who would attract a nice package in return. But there’s no indication they’re going to move if they don’t like the return.

More on Jackson

When rumors started up last fall about the Tigers potentially trading Magglio Ordonez, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski eventually said that they weren’t looking to trade him. He also said, however, that they would listen on just about any player another club would call him about.

Fast forward to now, with the Tigers reportedly at least listening to interest on Edwin Jackson, and Dombrowski isn’t saying much, which is telling.

“Do not have anything to say about any trade conversations other than to say we have visited with many clubs during the meetings, which is customary,” Dombrowski said in an email Wednesday morning from the GM meetings in Chicago.

He did add, however, that they will have to make some tough decisions this offseason, particularly with the number of free agents they have.

Jackson, an All-Star in the first half of the season before struggling down the stretch, is a tough decision, particularly if trading him can net him from help in return at shortstop or in the bullpen.

That doesn’t mean it’s a payroll decision or a sign of slashing ahead. There’s a difference between cutting payroll and swapping it, particularly if any deal would end up even in salary. There’s also a difference between cutting a salary and selling high on a player.

At this point, Dombrowski said, nothing is close to a deal on anything.