Dombrowski talks free agent closers, trading starters at GM meetings
I’m not at the GM Meetings this week in Florida, but MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor Richard Justice is. He was in the mix when Dave Dombrowski talked with reporters about Detroit’s offseason priorities. Long story short, Dombrowski confirmed the Tigers are chasing free-agent closers, while all but confirming they’re listening to trade interest on their starters.
“What are our immediate needs? We could use a closer, but we’re discussing those in free agency,” Dombrowski said when asked if he could trade a starter to address immediate needs. “We have six starters when you include Smyly. We’re not looking to trade them per se. We’re always open minded to see what works for us.”
Dombrowski declined to go any further into the trade possibility, though he reportedly told Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com that he expects Smyly to be in the rotation next year. On the closer angle, he gave every indication that they’ll fill the post via free agency, not in a trade.
“We need to address our bullpen a little bit,” he said. “We need to come up with a closer, and I think we will.”
So far, the Tigers have been linked in reports to interest in Joe Nathan, Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour. Also out there are Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez, among others. I’m thinking they’ll come up with a closer, too, whether it’s Nathan or someone else. The bigger question arguably is how they see the rest of the bullpen. On that note, it’s probably not a coincidence that Dombrowski said losing Rondon for the postseason was huge.
“Getting him back, which we believe we will, and you have a closer, all of a sudden, it changes your situation a great deal,” Dombrowski said. “We think our bullpen would have been fine [in the postseason] if we’d had him back.”
One more note from Dombrowski’s session today: When asked about Nick Castellanos competing for the left-field job next spring, he gave it a tentative thumbs-up.
“Well, right now we’re giving him an opportunity to make our club,” Dombrowski said. “Left field was one spot this year where we really didn’t have that regular guy. [Castellanos] got a cup of coffee in September just to get him exposed to the big leagues. We’re thinking he has a chance to earn that spot or a lot of playing time out there. We have a complement of guys like Dirks and Kelly to go along with him. We like him. We think he’s ready to play.”