November 13th, 2009

Yes, there's still free agency for Tigers

While trade rumors build around the Tigers regarding players they control, their interest in their own free agents hasn’t gone away, at least not for most of them.

The Tigers have had contact with the agents for relievers Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon, second baseman Placido Polanco and shortstop Adam Everett, but those discussions were believed to be preliminary ahead of follow-up talks later.

Meanwhile, president/general manager Dave Dombrowski confirmed to Booth Newspapers that they will not be pursuing free agents Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff, both late-season trade acquisitions for the Tigers this past summer who struggled down the stretch.

Neither was expected to be a Tigers target. Washburn had told reporters last week that he hadn’t heard from the Tigers other than to check on his knee after surgery.

“We called both Jarrod and Aubrey this week and told them we will not be pursuing them,” Dombrowski told Booth Newspapers. “We wished them well.”

Dombrowski said the team had not made such calls to its other four free agents.

The Tigers acquired Washburn from Seattle at the nonwaiver trade deadline July 31, but knee problems hampered him in August and September until the Tigers shut him down for the final couple weeks. He posted a 1-3 record and 7.33 ERA in eight Tigers starts, compared with an 8-6 record and 2.64 ERA in 20 starts for the Mariners.

Huff batted .189 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 40 games for the Tigers after coming over from Baltimore in a mid-August trade. Detroit’s plans to rotate players between designated hitter and the outfield, including Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, essentially sealed Huff’s departure.

The Tigers hold exclusive negotiating rights on their free agents for seven more days. Other teams can talk to them now, and all four have drawn interest, but those teams can’t make contract offers or talk contract terms until next Friday.

By then, the Tigers should have a better idea about any trade talks, where they may lead, and what holes any deals could fill.

All four are expected to seek multi-year contracts, according to industry sources, but that’s no surprise. The Tigers didn’t sign any free agent or arbitration-eligible player to a multi-year contract last year, and aside from possibly Justin Verlander, it remains to be seen whether they would do so now.

Prospect Scott Sizemore has been deemed ready for the big leagues, while relievers Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt could conceivably be ready within a year. Shortstop is a different situation, and barring a trade acquisition, there’s expected to be mutual interest for Everett to return.

Telling comment on Jackson from Brewers GM

By now, you can tell it’s going to be a crazy stretch of reported interest in the Tigers’ trading pieces, and it’s just starting. But Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, in confirming contact with the Tigers on Edwin Jackson, had a telling remark to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on how this could play out:

“Dave’s in charge of that one,” Melvin told the J-S. “They’ll identify which clubs are matches and they’ll call them. He’s looking for young players and young pitchers.”

That’s a little bit more than listening, though not necessarily a quick sale. The youth part isn’t a surprise, of course.

They might’ve had a better match before the Brewers traded J.J. Hardy trade with Minnesota, but the Brewers still have some young pitching. They also have outfielder Corey Hart, in whom the Tigers reportedly had interest in the past.

Add Angels to Granderson suitors

Trade interest in Curtis Granderson is expected to draw teams that already have an established center fielder. That group is now believed to include the Angels.

The Angels have talked with the Tigers about a Granderson trade, according to a report in New York’s Newsday, with the enticement of slotting in Granderson as a corner outfielder alongside Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter and adding a left-handed bat to a lineup that had a lot of right-handed hitters in the middle of the order this past season.

Angels general manager Tony Reagins declined comment to Newsday, much like Tigers officials have been quiet on the Granderson front this week.

Granderson is a friend of Hunter dating back to their days as AL Central rivals in Minnesota, and while Granderson loves center field, he understandably has a lot of respect for Hunter as one of the greats at the position. Granderson has also talked about how much he enjoys Angel Stadium, and the way the stadium plays.

It probably helps that the Angels have seen some of Granderson’s best performances. He’s a .353 (30-for-85) career hitter at Angel Stadium, and his eight home runs in 21 games there are as many as he has hit anywhere other than Detroit.

The Angels have position prospects that could entice the Tigers, including outfielder Chris Pettit. They also have some level of bullpen depth that could provide Detroit with some late-inning help.