Tigers begin free-agent process

Now that the Tigers have re-signed Jhonny Peralta, they can turn their attention to other teams’ free agents as they try to fill their offseason needs. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski’s comments Monday morning suggested they aren’t wasting any time getting to that.

“I think we’ve reached a point where we know what we’re going to do,” Dombrowski said on a conference call with reporters to discuss the Peralta deal, “and it would give me no benefit to tell you exactly what our plan is. We know what our thought process is. We know where we want to go. We’re moving in that direction. … For us, we’ve started the process, and that means that at times you’re already talking to people at this time.”

Judging from those remarks, it’s safe to say that the Tigers are reaching out to agents at this point. That doesn’t mean they’re close on anything, or that any top free agents are going to sign quickly. The deadline for teams to offer arbitration to free agents, and thus put themselves in line for compensation if those players sign elsewhere, isn’t for another 2 1/2 weeks. More than anything, it means the Tigers are reacting to the sped-up timeframe and deadlines of this offseason compared to previous ones, and that the Tigers are trying to be nimble on their feet, as Dombrowski put it last month.

“I do know that [the new deates] will expedite it because it has expedited it for us,” Dombrowski said. “We have already had meetings and are prepared to move forward on some situations.”

The Tigers had the Major League portion of their end-of-season meetings two weeks ago in Detroit. That’s where team officials and scouts go over evaluate the free-agent and potential trade markets and prioritize.

With openings at the DH slot and both corner outfield positions, plus at-bats available for a catcher to at least face left-handed starting pitchers, the Tigers have a lot of roster flexibility for a team in the market for a top offensive free agent. Anyone from catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez to first baseman Adam Dunn and outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth could fit into the Tigers’ plans.

The Tigers have the flexibilty to react and rebound if and when free agents sign elsewhere and get crossed off their list. But first, they need something to react to.


we have SO MANY young talented players that I feel like we could just let them develop and focus on signing a couple pitchers. 1 for the rot and 2 for the pen. I mean the GIANTS won the WS with garbage bats…..

I think you might be onto something, jimmyleyland. After all, when we put together what was projected to be the best lineup in the history of baseball, we didn’t even make the playoffs!

Looking at it seriously, there are a lot of people who think Victor Martinez is coming here, and that does make a lot of sense on many levels. I looked up Victor’s pct of caught stealing, and noticed that it jumped to 32% and 37% in 2007 and 2008. This leads me to wonder if he had pitchers during those seasons who held runners better. We’d be talking Sabathia and Lee, among others. As everyone knows, or should know, bases are stolen on pitchers more than catchers. Meanwhile, 32% and 37% is up there in the Laird/Avila range. I have to wonder if Victor’s defensive weakness is yet another of those baseball myths that become ingrained. Thoughts on that?

If you sign Victor for his bat, catching him fulltime will cost at bats due to injurys at his age. I also think that you have to carry a third catcher with Victor as a DH/1st base option if Alex is your catcher against right handers.

I think the emergency third catcher thing is overrated. If you run into a problem within a game–one game–you go with Inge or Raburn as emergency catcher. Then you bring somebody up from Toledo–one hour away, if you’re at home–from that point forward. How many times in a major league game do two catchers go down?

Interesting. I do think that Jim Leyland would want a third catcher, but here’s the thing: if Victor is DHing and Avila goes down, all that happens is you lose the DH and the pitcher has to hit. This is not the end of the world scenario that some managers seem to think. If it’s late in the game, or even fairly early the way they do it these days, you’d only need one, maybe two pinch hitters, since they run a boatload of pitchers out there for each game anyway. Myself, I certainly wouldn’t carry a third catcher just on the outside chance that a pitcher might have to hit once or twice in a season. Of course, Avila would have to hit against lefties too, so there’s that. You couldn’t PH for him if Victor was already DHing.
The idea of Inge or Raburn as emergency backup has validity, but they’d need to actually work out at the position sometimes, I’d think. I’d want them at least somewhat prepared.
I can’t remember now, how do the Twins do this? Third catcher or no?

In alphabetical order not to offend anyone:

Crawford, Martinez, Ordonez and…………..

I think Victor Martinez would be a great addition. If nothing else, he replaces Ordonez average production over the years (300-20-100) at a position that his production really stands out. He can play 1B on some days when Avila catches, wih Cabrera at DH or getting the very occasional day off. He can DH when Avila catches and Cabrera is at 1B. He is a nice option off the bench when the opposition brings in a lefty to combat Avila. And it still leaves open an OF spot for a guy like Crawford, Werth or even Mags again.
If we got Martinez and Mags, we would have guys who hit above 290 at spots 1-2-3-4-5 in the lineup, assuming Rhymes started and hit second. Add to that 3 guys who had double digit HR and good rbi production in Raburn, Inge, Peralta, a catcher who hit very well in September, an OF who lit up the league for half a year in Boesch, another OF who hit very well in limited time in Wells…and if we get Crawford or Werth or Dunn instead of Ordonez or Raburn…look out.
I keep hearing we might be interested in Putz. I think that would also be a good signing. Healh is always a concern, but he is a local guy, usually has a good ERA and good K/BB ratio and closing experience if Valverde doesn’t come back to form or misses time with an injury.
Additionally, I would like to see us grab a Guerrier, Rauch, or Crain from Minnesota. Improving ourselves while hurting the Twins would be great…

Even though he won’t be cheap – I think Carl Crawford has to be top priority because he fills the most gaps for the Tigers. He’s a solid left fielder (made even better when you put him next to Jackson in the OF), he hits for average and power, and he will steal bases – something the Tigers have been missing. Assuming they hit him third (although 5th is an obvious option as well) and Ryhmes starts at second base – our 1, 2, 3 is Jackson, Rhymes, and Crawford. That’s 150 stolen bases and more runners on base for Cabby.

For Crawford, I have to think Detroit is near the top of the list. He’s admitted that his knees cannot handle the turf at Tropicana anymore – well, Carl, there is no turf in the Central.

I love the idea of Crawford. But with his base stealing and potentially batting 3rd doesn’t that just leave Cabrera being intentionally walked numerous times? This would mean the Tigers have to find a solid bat for the 5. I don’t know if this could be Mags or maybe a healthy Guillen, who has been hard to rely on the past few years.

Have not commented but enjoy the reading. Sparky. Now that is one manager I am thrilled to say his name. Remember when he walked Junior and then gave Sparky the finger? Sparky, you knew how to handle a pitching staff. The hot stove talk is great and what ever happens we have to be excited because we are Tiger fans. Pitching, defense, and then hitting. I am not sure where manager fits but I am looking forward to some new ones. Go Tigers, 2011. –Dave

I would be happy if the Tigers got Crawford. But if he bats 3rd, he won’t steal 50 bases. The way Leyland plays the running game, he won’t steal 50 even if he batted leadoff. If he bats 5th, he will not provide enough protection for Cabrera.
As far as Crawford hitting for power…he doesn’t. 19 HR last year is his career high. 19 HR is not a power hitter. 14HR/yr average is definitely not a power hitter.
Defensively he would be a great upgrade over Raburn/Kelly/whoever, and that would be nice, but I’m not sure getting a guy who is likely to hit 290 with 15 HR 80 rbi and 25 SB is worth $100mil.
If the Tigers sign him, I will be happy, as I said. But watching him every day in Tampa, I cannot see how he fits the Tigers with what they need. Had Austin Jackson not panned out as a leadoff hitter, or if they are planning to drop him down into the bottom half of the order, then by all means sign Crawford, bat him leadoff and let him run wild.

Well, I won’t hold my breath for Crawford, but he is a pretty imposing figure in the batting box and everywhere else. Plus, his preferred position in the lineup is #2. Some team will be getting a a premier player. It would be nice if it’s us, but all the talk and rumors seem to be sending him to the Angels.

Will the Tigers try for Nishioka bid? (He’s interested in West Coast though)
They can put him at 2B hitting 2nd with much better OBP.
Even if Austin gets an out, there’s another leadoff hitter to deal with…

I think if the Tigers sign Crawford they will also sign V-Mart. As many have you have already said, having V-Mart as the DH gives Jim some options when it comes to resting and rotating players. If they signed both V-Mart and Crawford it would put more men on base for Cabby while providing him with protection. The Tiger order would look something like Jackson, Rhymes (Sizemore/Guillen), Crawford, Cabrera, Martinez, Peralta, OF (Maggs, Raburn, Boesch), Inge, Avila.

I like the talks of trading for Uggla. The way DD has landed Marlins players in the past, I think there is a chance Detroit could have a 30+hr, 100 RBI, second baseman, in his prime. Lineup: AJ (cf), Crawford(lF),Guillen (rf), Cabrera (1b), Uggla (2b), Peralta (ss), Inge (3b), Avila? (C). They could do a lot with Dunn or V-mart, just for another big bat.
Also I haven’t seen anything official about free agent talks besides that DD mentioned it won’t help him any to discuss if he had in fact started contacting free agents. Sounds like he is up to something. After last year, I am interested to see what kind of wheeling and dealing he does with all this payroll to play with.

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