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.


The Tigers will have a payroll of at least $ 125 million for the 2010 season, regardless of whether they trade Jackson, or Granderson, or Laird. I seriously doubt that Mr. Illitch wants to shell out that kind of money just to write off this season and start a make over. If they trade any of those guys, it has to be with an eye toward improving in 2010 and beyond. Sure, DD and company could be listening to offers from anyone, for anyone. Nobody is untouchable, and nobody should be. But Illitch isn’t getting any younger, and I’m sure he’d like a championship- at least a Division championship- before he, ahem… goes away.

Besides, the Tigers are stuck with $ 72 million in immovable contracts for aging players, and $ 65 million in BAD contracts coming off the books after the 2010 season. Between now and then, they’ll need to extend or replace their 2B, SS, 3B, RF, DH, Catcher, two starting pitchers, closer, and set up man. They WILL have enough money to extend Verlander AND Jackson before their “walk years” if that’s what they choose to do. For now, they need a 2B, SS, closer, and set up. I don’t think the internal options are sufficient for any of those, as is, and there’s no payroll room (in other sports, they call it “cap space”) to get them. So, they consider all the options.

But if the Tigers are going to deal Granderson, they’d want a pretty big haul for him, including someone that could improve their chances THIS season. First, they’ll have to consider the immediate impact of trading maybe their most popular Tiger. Besides positions, the Tigers need a lead off man, No. 2 hitter, another power bat, and they need to get generally faster on the bases. They need to be able to manufacture runs. They have to be tired of seeing the Carlos Gomezs and Denard Spans tearing them up.

DD mentioned at the season ending presser that there was a direction toward leaner, faster players. Guys that can hit the gaps and run like the wind. If ever there was a venue built for that kind of team, it’s Comerica. After 2010, the sluggers like Inge, Ordonez, Thames, and Sheffield will be gone. Only Guillen will have one year left on his contract. The makeover has already begun, and it will continue. The Tigers will have one more year of Ordonez, Inge, Laird, Santiago. One more year, for better or worse, of Bonderman, Robertson, and Willis. Then, $ 65 million off the payroll, and the new, leaner, meaner Tigers will emerge. Cabrera, Verlander, Jackson, Porcello, Avila, Sizemore, Granderson, Perry, and Ni should still be around. Unless they can be traded for a few pieces that fit the model a bit better.

Some things make no sense.
Jackson for Sherrill would not save much money, and would not help the team. Add young SP James McDonald, and things get very interesting.

Juan Pierre is not a good lead off hitter, or a good player, period. He runs a perennial OBP of around .330, makes Raburn look like Mr. steady in LF, and makes Granderson’s arm look like Al Kaline’s. He’s a fourth OF’er who did okay when Manny was being Manny on sebatical.

Carlos Guillen is a five and ten guy, who just complained about his playing time in Detroit. How’d he do with an outfield of Manny, Kemp, and Ethier, with no DH? Didn’t think so. He wouldn’t like the Dodgers, and they don’t need him. The only thing that works there is unloading his contract, and that only works for one club.

Finally, you can’t tell me that signing Everett last year was about defense, when they’d even consider letting Polanco walk, trading Laird, or dealing Granderson. It wasn’t about defense. It was about money, and Everett would take a one year deal while the great Cale Iorg was getting ready to be an All Star, sooner than people think. We need a REAL shortstop, preferably sooner, rather than later.

Well, now, Inge is also available for listening sessions. It just keeps getting more and more interesting. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Iorg. He’s been on a downward spiral.


There are several team who would love to have Grandy. Depends on who’d we get for him. And they’d have to give al lot.

I think Tracey hit the nail on the head on the last thread. It isn’t about trading Jackson, Granderson etc. It is about who goes with them.

Yeah, that’s the other angle. You’d be talking Yankees or Dodgers there. I don’t know of any other teams that could take on the contracts of Willis and/or Robertson. If it was Guillen, you’d require more in return than the receiving team is likely to give up. At least, I’d hope so. And just freeing up payroll in this year’s free agent market doesn’t seem to be a good idea, unless they’re planning to sign Verlander for life. Even then, I’d wait, unless the deal of the decade came along.

Just for fun, who would we like to keep most, Granderson or Jackson?
Granderson’s inability to hit LHers bothers me, as does the possibility of him being spread too thin. I think Jackson was overworked by JL in the first half.

I think Curtis will be a changed ballplayer next year. No WBC (thankfully for all of the other guys also) and I also think he learned a valuable lesson about spreading himself too thin. Donating his book is a very generous thing to do and he didn’t have to travel all over the world to do it. I think you have to keep Curtis.

I would prefer to keep EJ but Curtis puts the fans on seats so EJ would have to go first.
I wonder if we do have untradeable contracts. We have many players overpaid on performance but anyone can be moved for the right price, just a question of how much salary you are prepared to eat. DD just hates to do it as it requires you to bring to account bad contracts.
MLB rumours has the Cubs likely eating around $5-6m of Bradley’s 2 year $21m commitment.
Offloading 3 underperforming contracts being Willis ($1-$1m), Carlos or Maggs ($4-8m), Nate or Bondo ($2-3m) have $35m-$42.5m tied up which should be able to be offloaded with around $6-10m freed up for 2010. If you are really desperate as it seems we are, moving the whole 5 should bring you in around $10-15m brought into the coffers.
With none of our guys carrying an attitude problem and pitchers with past form being involved, you would think we would have an easier task than the Cubs.

What was reported, tied to payroll issues:

From Joel Sherman, NY Post:
“CHICAGO — In a cost-cutting frame of mind, the Tigers have let teams now that Curtis Granderson could be had for the right package, an NL executive told The Post.”

From JP Morosi and Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports:
“The Tigers have made Jackson available on the trade market as part of an effort to alleviate their payroll crunch, multiple major league sources told”

“Meanwhile, one executive within the industry confirmed Wednesday that the Tigers are also open to trade proposals for All-Star center fielder Curtis Granderson — a notion that would have seemed far-fetched several months ago.”

“Why? It’s simple: Escalating contracts signed during better economic times are causing a squeeze. ”

“As one rival executive put it, after reviewing Detroit’s payroll obligations: “For a team in that situation, they should be listening to offers for anyone making money. Anyone .”

“The New York Post reported on its website Wednesday that Granderson is available. Falling revenues and escalating salaries are forcing the Tigers to control costs. They had a payroll of more than $130 million this year, and club president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said this week that he doesn’t know yet what the figure will be for 2010.”

Tigers general manager David Dombrowski acknowledged Tuesday that he is not optimistic he can sign both of his free-agent relievers, Rodney and right-hander Brandon Lyon. Of the two, Lyon figures to be less expensive.
SI’s John Heyman:
” #tigers surprise sale: brandon inge may be available, as well as curtis granderson and edwin jackson, sources say about 21 hours ago from web


And Everett wasn’t about defense last year, either.

Why in the world are the tigers trying to trade their 2 best young players (besides Cabrera) and meanwhile they are trying to resign EVERETT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! what has gone wrong with dombrowski, if he was not such an idiot towards the Dontrelle Willis trade, we would be able to give up Grandy with having Maybin stepping in and taking that spot. Also like his grand plan to get a 4-spot pitcher in Washburn, another good trade. Obviously he does not know how to make good trades. Keep Santiago at short, Roman is a better hitter and close there to being the better fielcer between him and Everett. If the tigers get rid of either Jackson or Granderson, im done with the Tigers…I give up…

P.S. another thing that shows how terrible Dombrowski has been…He brought back Lloyd McClendon.

With cashflow the name of the game and so much underperforming payroll dropping off after 2010, getting creative with his contracts is another way for DD to go along with trading the underperfromers away at bargain rates.
Letting your star pitchers go to arbitration will add to salary unless you sign them to long term contracts that backend the salary – JV and EJ would get around $6-10m in arbitration yet could be signed long term and only receive $3m each in 2010.
Decide who out of Carlos and Maggs you want to keep beyond 2010. I would go with Maggs on performance and your $15m 2011 option provides leverage to rejig his contract to say $40m for 4 years, which would save you $8m in 2010.

If Dombrowski ends up trading away people’s favorite Tigers just to rectify his own payroll mismanagement, he should resign, or at the very least, fire himself as GM. Why should the Matt Millens of the world always land on their feet? This would definitely end that “he’s better than Randy Smith” argument. And he’s wasted $8 million on Jim Leyland.
We’re watching and waiting……………..

Guillen’s deal is guaranteed through 2011. Both he and Magglio have the right to veto a trade as 10-and-5 players — 10 years in the big leagues, the last 5 with the same club.

I believe DD may have had suspicions about Leland and that’s why he waited with the contract. However, the team was in 1st place and hanging in there. Same with Magglio. The team was in 1st place and they would need Maggs to go into the postseason as he had the hottest bat at the end of the season. When the Tigers lost game #163, the camera panned across Dave’s face and he had tears in his eyes. The only thing I think where Dave went wrong is with the economy. Even though Leland talked about the tough economy at the start of the season, those guys have no idea of the calamity wreaked in Detroit and Michigan. He’s made a few bad contracts and they didn’t seem that outrageous at the time to most people. I don’t fault him for Bondo or Nate or even Dontrelle. No one , in a million years, thought the DTrain would be such a terrible failure in Detroit. Dombrowski, in the past, made some tremendous trades and I think he’s learned a few lessons along the way. Hopefully, all this talk of trades will light a fire under some peoples behinds.

As much as I would hate to see Eddie go, I will be absolutely beside myself if they trade Grandy. I don’t care what deal we made for him- it would not be worth it.
Curtis has the unique intangible qualities that can’t be measured in dollars- he is the face of the Tigers, a supporter of our community, and I know I’ve said it before on this blog- he’s a hero I encourage my kids to look up. Maybe that’s not important to all fans- but it’s huge as a mom. And guess what? Moms have an awful lot of control over how much of the family budget goes to support the Tigers. At least this mom does.🙂


As much as I love Grandy, an owner has to look at all options. Grandy doesn’t find Detroit his favorite place to be and has said as much. He would probably love to be traded to a New York or southwest team. If trading Grandy equates into winning more games, then I’m all for it. This team needs to win.

I saw that camera shot of Dave when game 163 ended and all I could think was “there goes all that playoff money that we counted on.” I even said it aloud. That’s partially why I’m so bitter about Leyland letting it slip away.
I got a “D” in Economy, so it’s no surprise that I’m having trouble equating the economy to some pretty good attendance numbers in 2009. The problem I foresee is that few fans will believe in the Tigers in 2010, not after they collapsed yet again. Think about it; 7 games up on Labor Day, 3 up with 4 to play and we still blew it? How can anyone enjoy and get excited about a team that has that on their resume’? We’re going to spend all next season waiting for the other shoe to drop, and that doesn’t translate into good attendance. I thought the simplest fix was a new manager, new philosophy, but that’s just my own personal outlook, I guess.

If Granderson were to be traded, it wouldn’t be for prospects. I doubt that this is about saving money off the 2010 payroll. There is $ 72 million in BAD, immovable contracts on the books for 2010, and $ 65 million in contracts expire after the 2010 season (unless they’re dumb enough, which they are, to let Magglio’s 2011 option vest).
– There is $ 15.3 million in scheduled salary increases
– About 8.3 million in arbitration increases
– 29.2 million in expiring contracts, including Sheffield, Thames and Treanor
– Add at least 400 K for each departing contract, to replace them with minimum

TOTAL leaves payroll just about where it was last year, not counting the Huff and Washburn rentals, or about 3 million less without adding back any free agents or replacements.

IF ownership is unwilling to fork out ANY money to retain even their own players to fill vital needs (and they are VITAL), then something’s gotta give.Hence, the talk of trading one of the few larger contracts that are left.

After Cabrera (not sure he could be moved, much less for a big haul) and Verlander, that leaves Jackson, Laird, and Granderson. Needless to say, I’d trade Inge for nothing if I could sign Figgins, but there is nobody, but nobody else to play 3B in the organization. Most critical is to get back either Rodney, Lyon, or a replacement for them that’s not this year’s version of Jose Mesa, Eduardo Campusano, Matt Mantei, Joey Eischen, or Juan Rincon. The Tiger bullpen was awful last year, but was coming around in the second half, with Lyon and Rodney clicking and Zumaya on the DL. For the season, they were second in the league in blown saves with 24, 10th in save pct despite going 72- 0 after the 8th, and led the world in BB’s. Lose Rodney or Lyon and see what ya got!

So, it’s not about dumping salary, and it’s not about getting prospects. It’s about filling multiple holes for 2010, until some of DD’s bad contracts expire. The organization should suck it up, do the tweaking that’s needed for 2010, and save the overhaul for next winter, when there is more flexibility with the payroll.

The Tigers did have relatively good attendance last year. But this year, with even more white collar and blue collar workers losing their jobs, no auto endorsememt money coming in, I would imagine season tickets sales will be much less than last year. I’m sure Dave was thinking about the loss of revenue when that game 163 ended, but you could tell, he was hearbroken not only for the franchise, but all the people in Detroit counting on that money. I am still extremely angry with this team for losing the division and that horrible swoon at the end. Unforgivable to the fans.

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