Tigers still looking at veteran relievers
Unless the Tigers go with an experimental 10-man bullpen, they’ll have more young relievers than they’ll likely have spots in their bullpen once the agreed-upon trade of Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson becomes official. But that apparently doesn’t rule out the Tigers dealing for a veteran closer.
Quite the opposite, the Tigers would like one, and they’re expanding their search after Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon turned down Detroit’s arbitration offers late Monday night. They remain interested in bringing one of them back, but they’re preparing as if both of them move on.
Whether it’s Lyon, Rodney or someone else, the Tigers are hoping to have a veteran reliever.
“It doesn’t have to be now,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “We didn’t sign Brandon Lyon [last winter] until late January, but ideally we’d like to have somebody [experienced] out there, yes.”
By adding potential future closer Daniel Schlereth from Arizona and lefty Phil Coke from the Yankees, Detroit further bolstered a group of young relievers that Dombrowski already praised for its potential depth. Ryan Perry was already expected to compete for a setup role next spring, while similar hard-throwing righties Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt could crack the big leagues later in the season after getting more seasoning at Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo.
Add in lefty Fu-Te Ni, still-young Zach Miner and a potentially healthy Joel Zumaya, and Detroit’s bullpen has the chance to be very deep, very soon. That doesn’t, however, mean that they’re going to take over the late innings completely quite yet.
When asked about an established closer on Monday, Dombrowski suggested the Tigers could go a different route. On Tuesday, Dombrowski confirmed they were talking with more veteran arms, as well as maintaining talks on Rodney and Lyon.
“Both of them were looking for multi-year deals,” Dombrowski said. “They made that clear. We continue to have interest in them, but I’m also sure that they want to explore what’s out there, and that’s what they’re doing. We continue to talk to them and are interested in them.”
Whether the Tigers would be willing to offer a multi-year deal just became an interesting question. A trade of Granderson and Jackson will open up payroll space, giving the Tigers some much-needed flexibility to address needs. However, it also gives Detroit yet another closing option for the very near future.
The rest of the market is an interesting mix of candidates, and the Tigers are exploring. A FOXSports.com report listed Detroit among clubs interested in free agent J.J. Putz, a trade market of the Tigers last year before the Mariners traded their former closer to the Mets. Any interest would be relatively new; Detroit hadn’t so much as talked with Putz’s agent as of last week.
Detroit also was reportedly among a handful of teams with early interest in former Cubs closer Kevin Gregg.
“We did talk to a couple people, yes, once we knew that they were not accepting arbitration for sure,” Dombrowski said. “Now, we continue to have interest in [Rodney and Lyon], but we also have to start doing our homework. In case they go to other places, we have to be prepared.”