December 6th, 2010
The Tigers were rumored among the most serious suitors for Jayson Werth, who just signed a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals. But team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said their interest didn’t go very far.
“The majority, and just short of all of that, was strictly paper talk,” Dombrowski said. “We never had any serious conversations on Jayson Werth. Not one. And the reality of it is, when we prioritized our players, we had Victor Martinez up there, that we pursued. And just preliminary conversations, very preliminary, where they talk in generalities, the dollar numbers and years were just not appealing to us.
“That’s why sometimes you move quickly in other directions to do things. For us, it just made more sense to move in the direction that we did.”
What Dane Sardinha was to the Tigers in 2008 and 2009, and what Robinzon Diaz was meant to be last year, Omir Santos is expected to be next season. The Tigers signed the 29-year-old catcher to a minor-league contract to serve as insurance for Alex Avila and Victor Martinez.
Santos is best known for a good stint of playing time behind the plate for the Mets in 2009. He batted .260 in 96 games that season with 14 doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBIs. He played just 27 games this past season between Triple-A Buffalo and Double-A Binghamton, batting a combined .160 with a home run and 10 RBIs in 94 at-bats.
Again, it’s insurance. Avila and Martinez were the only catchers on Detroit’s roster, unless you count emergency backstops Ryan Raburn and Brandon Inge. Once rosters expanded in September, the Tigers’ third catcher was Max St. Pierre, who earned his first Major League stint after 14 minor league seasons. They’re starting to develop some more young catchers in the system, and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski says it’s probably the best catching development they’ve had since he took over, but that young talent is currently in the lower levels.
Tigers people were out working the lobby at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort Monday morning. That’s a normal thing for them at the start of the Winter Meetings as they try to gauge teams and see where there might be fits.
For now, the buzz is still the Jayson Werth deal and how it might affect the rest of these meetings, especially the top of the outfield market. The Tigers obviously fit into that, but they’re still keeping their eyes on other things, too, including lefty relief. They had some discussion on longtime lefty specialist Ron Mahay, currently a free agent, but nothing seems to have progressed just yet. There’s an impression that lefty relief isn’t a pressing priority at this point.
Mahay turns 40 years old next year. He went 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA for the Twins last year, allowing 33 hits over 34 innings with 25 strikeouts. Left-handed hitters batted just .219 against him: 14-for-64 with 12 strikeouts.
Don’t expect them to make a run at Scott Downs. Though the Tigers love what Downs brings to the job, they don’t want to give another high-round pick as compensation for the Type A free agent. That’s the same problem many teams are facing when it comes to him.