Just finished a long, long conversation with Dave Dombrowski, and he pretty much mapped out the Tigers’ offseason plans and priorities. The biggest point of it: The Tigers will indeed be looking for a middle-of-the-order bat, either in the outfield or at DH, but they want to keep Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta at 3B and SS, respectively.
Dombrowski confirmed the Tigers have talked to Inge and his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, in the last couple days about a multi-year contract and made him an offer. It’s still early, but considering Inge clearly wants to stay in Detroit and the Tigers not only want him back, but seem to consider it a priority, there’s every ingredient for a match.
“We want him back,” Dombrowski said of Inge.
The Levinsons also represent Peralta, and Dombrowski said they’ve been in touch about him, too. That doesn’t mean they’re going to pick up his $7.25 million option, but one way or another, they would like to have him back at shortstop.
“We’re looking to sign him as our shortstop,” Dombrowski said.
The other contract option they face is Magglio Ordonez, who is in a middle ground right now. Not surprisingly, Dombrowski said they’ve told Ordonez and agent Scott Boras that they will not exercise his $15 million option. However, Dombrowski indicated that they’re open to bringing him back.
“That will not close the door by any means,” Dombrowski said. “For us, he is definitely a possibility.”
Ordonez, in turn, expressed what Dombrowski called “a strong desire to remain a Tiger.” So again, the two key pieces for a deal are there. Whether that results in an agreement is something different. Ordonez is a Boras client, and as the Yankees will attest with Johnny Damon, sometimes those negotiations can stretch out in an effort to get the best deal.
“Magglio will not be a quick sign,” Dombrowski said.
As for the rest of the pending Tigers free agents, the answer is essentially no. Dombrowski told Johnny Damon and Gerald Laird they will not be purusing them as free agents, and Dombrowski said they “most likely” won’t pursue Jeremy Bonderman.
“We’re not closing the door per se, but we’re not actively pursuing him,” Dombrowski said of Bonderman.
Some of the other notes to come out of the nearly hour-long interview:
- Alex Avila is going to get the majority of the starts at catcher next year. As Dombrowski said, “We’re going to give Alex Avila the primary responsibility at catcher.”
- Dombrowski stopped short of saying Ryan Raburn is an everyday outfielder, but he came awfully close. “I think we feel he can be a primary guy,” Dombrowski said. “I wouldn’t say he’s an everyday guy, but he’s going to play a lot.”
- Confirming what Dombrowski told WDFN next month, they’ll go into next season with Will Rhymes and Scott Sizemore competing for time at second base. Dombrowski also said Danny Worth could see time there, as could Carlos Guillen when he’s healthy.
- Dombrowski on Rhymes: “We like what we see. We think he has a chance to be a spark for us.”
- Dombrowski seconded what Leyland said earlier about the bullpen as a priority. “Ideally, we’d like to have one more guy in the back end,” said Dombrowski, who used Brandon Lyon as an example of the kind of signing they’d like to make there.
- The Tigers will not be pursuing Cliff Lee, or anyone at the very top end of the free-agent starting market. However, Dombrowski cautioned that they won’t necessarily be looking for a stereotypical fifth starter.
- The Tigers are open to having a full-time DH, if that’s what it takes to add a bat in the middle of the order. In other words, they can find room for Adam Dunn.
- Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells will compete for outfield spots next year.