On Shin-Soo Choo, payroll and trail mix

Let’s agree on this: No matter what limitations the Tigers may or may not face, they’ll be busy at the Winter Meetings. In an era when teams can rival the Winter Meetings a week early with phone calls, emails and texts, Dave Dombrowski thrives at old-school, in-person gatherings.

They’ll be talking, Dombrowski and his front-office team. It’s just a question of what kind of market they’ll be talking about.

“It’s never boring,” Dombrowski said. “It may not be as active as it’s been the last couple weeks, just how things have happened. It’s been a very active time period. …

“What I have always found at the winter meetings is anytime you put 30 clubs together and you start talking, your scouts start talking and I’m looking at my board every single day and coming up with ideas, you try to get better. Again, I don’t know what’s going to happen. It won’t be like it has been the last couple weeks, but I know I won’t be bored.”

Those talks may or may not involve Shin-Soo Choo. Dombrowski’s statements about not being involved at the top end of the market, and the fact that so much of the market reportedly has interest in Choo, would suggest the Tigers won’t be involved there. Having just traded away a massive contract, they’re not inclined to add one back. They were not involved in the bidding on Jacoby Ellsbury, Dombrowski said.

“We’re on December 5,” Dombrowski cautioned, “but I don’t anticipate any of the major names that are being thrown out there with names attached. I don’t anticipate those being our signing.”

But they still need a left fielder. They’re looking for help, even if it isn’t necessarily top-end help.

“I’m sure we’ll have to do something in some regards, because we don’t have anybody else,” Dombrowski said. “We’re sort of limited in our outfielders at this time on our roster, because we’ve got Torii [Hunter] and Austin [Jackson] and Andy [Dirks] with Donnie Kelly being able to play out there, but we’ll have to look at something to assist us in left field, and we’ll see what that is.”

There’s a huge difference in an assistance in left field and a left fielder. If the Tigers are looking for somebody to assist Dirks, the assistance is going to be a right-handed hitter. If the Tigers look for a full-time left fielder, the preference would almost surely be a left-handed hitter to balance out of the lineup. While the Tigers starting lineup itself is heavy on right-handed hitters, the outfield options are predominantly lefty. Nick Castellanos would’ve been the right-handed hitting option in left field, but he’s now in line to be the third baseman.

Between the desire against a massive contract and the batting needs, you can make the case that the better free-agent fit for the Tigers is Carlos Beltran and not Choo. He’s a switch-hitter, and with his 37th birthday coming up next April, he’s not going to command a five- or six-year contract. At this point, the stretch will be to get him three years. But with the Royals, his original team, and the Yankees reportedly heavily involved, wooing him might not be doable.

If the Tigers can’t go into that market, the middle market of outfielders has its options too, with Michigan native Nate McLouth among them. But he’s a left-handed hitter with a history of struggles against left-handed pitching, and again, the Tigers don’t have a right-handed hitting option to mix with him. You can see where the goals might drastically change depending on what the Tigers are looking for.

I’ve developed a tradition the last few years of bringing trail mix to the Winter Meetings. It’s an easy, cheap way to keep going during long days without having to sit down and eat overpriced resort food. At first read, the Joe Nathan signing and Dombrowski’s quotes about staying out of the top end of the market would’ve suggested there shouldn’t be long days. The more you think about it, though, the more of a mystery the market becomes.

Long story short, I bought a second bag of trail mix for this year’s meetings. Probably going to need it.


An approximation of lost rbi’s and hr’s b/t Prince and Peralta is 200 rbi’s and 50 hr’s. I mean, where will this lost production be made up in this current line-up? Detroit lost enough one-run games to seriously jeopardize their standing in the central and likely cost them home field advantage. Detroit had a mini-collapse at the conclusion of the season, which allowed Indians to finish one game behind Detroit, once again it was hitting, or lack there-of. If it’s Dirks and Kelly in LF and the prospect at third, this team is significantly weaker offensively and in their starting pitching w/o Fister. Meanwhile, Central continues to get more and better talent. If not Choo, or Beltran, or Grandy Tigers may be fighting for their post-season lives. Dominant pitching in the WS 2012, with little offense got them swept. Bats betrayed them in their alcs loss in 2013. If I see it, so does DD. Losing a one run decision w/ Verlander on the mound, in the alcs, simply cannot happen. What a charlie foxtrot.

easy answer: it won’t be made up. This roster will have to play better than they did last year. I thought several players last regular season played well below potential. Dirks and Alex both need to step up this year for us to win the central, IMO. And it’s looking like Coke and AL ALBQ will have to do likewise.

Pitching is why the Tigers have been so good in the last 3 years. I worry much more about the loss of Fister than Peralta/Fielder. I like Smyly a lot, and think he will do well as the #5 starter. The 200 RBI/ 50 HR, well I don’t think the 50 HR is realistic and will not be replaced, nor should it be. We will no longer be reliant on the HR in CoPa, which was a lousy strategy anyway. The RBIs? I see AJax helping with him lower in the order and Kinsler’s bat is strong. Nick C is a HITTER, but I bet there will be some rookie slumps that will drive people crazy. We will no longer have the 10-6 games, we are looking to win more 4-3 games, especially in October.

Jason, do you think another trade is coming?

I get the sense something unexpected is coming at the winter meetings to add a left fielder, probably not even something in the works right now. They have three days talking with other front offices while Scott Boras fields offers on Choo.

Dombrowski traded Fister and got back 3 players. Their value doesn’t add up to Doug Fister, in my opinion, but whatever – that’s what Dombrowski got and he feels good about it. The only positional player we got, plays 2B and LF (I’ve been told his SS and 3B abilities are sub MLB level) – and to boot, he’s right handed (so he can platoon with dirks). But now, Dombrowski doesn’t list the man as an outfielder. Is Dombrowski trying to confuse me, anger me or both?

because of course the ONLY thing we got in return for the 100RBI man was a 2B – thus basically eliminating playing time at 2B for the positional player acquired for Fister.

Couldn’t agree more Evan….unless there is something else I just don’t freaking get it…. There isn’t a pundant I’ve heard that thinks he didn’t think he (DD) didn’t get hosed on both of these deals he made. I’d like to have faith and he’s obviously made some good deals but then I remember Huff and Washburn and remember he makes fails big time too.

Same pundits thought he was dumping salary/ lost the trade when he traded Edwin Jackson and Granderson for Phil Coke, a minor league OF and 2 pitchers from Arizona that no one had heard of in Detroit.

Another nicely written piece. Stuff to think about for sure. I’m hoping for a trade. I like Venable and Rasmus but they are LHB. I have a feeling Andy will be our LFer this year and they will look for RHB with some fielding ability and pop.
Do or die for Andy this year.
Not so sure I agree with the way they are “annointing” Castellanos at the hot corner. I mean it’s obvious and all, but it could have been worded and presented differently.
I see the logic in what Jason is saying regarding Beltran but I also see another aging, struggling corner outfielder (let’s face it, Torii is struggling out there) with little speed any more. Choo makes a difference of about 5 wins IMO

I hope we get one more decent hitter and maybe another BP guy. The loss of an RBI guy (Peralta & Fielder) needs to be addressed and shoring up the BP. I’m feeling better about the Fister trade and if those pitchers work out we’ll all be happy. Washington is mourning the loss of “Lombo”. Anything can happen at these winter meetings. I trust in Dave.

In 2012, Peralta hit .239 with 13 HR. Please do not be sucked into thinking Peralta will be an automatic .300 hitter with 20 HR. Lifetime he is a .275 hitter. He is also a no range SS that did not want to play 3B with Cleveland.

I trust that those bemoaning the (on paper) loss of run production are not the same people who complained about the lack of athleticism the last two seasons.
It’s not how many runs you score, it’s when you score them, like the late innings which was a major issue this past season. I’m looking for better and smarter baserunning, Jackson hitting elsewhere in the lineup, and Victor hitting behind Miggy again.
The key, as always, is the rotation and bullpen. We have three Cy Youngs or near Cy Youngs. Porcello needs to continue to improve. Smyly hopefully is all we think he can be. I don’t count on Rondon due to injury potential, so the BP needs to be addressed big time.
The outcome of the Fister trade hinges on the future of Robbie Ray. Lombardozzi should be popular in Detroit.

Rich – I couldn’t agree with you more, great post!

Thank you. Glad you liked it, my friend.

Talking payroll, Dombrowski referenced Braves dynasty behind Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz. He has 2 SPs signed long term
in fact, three SP under control long term since Smyly wont be FA until 2019
Verlander, Sanchez, Smyly
Or : Verlander, Scherzer,Sanchez,Smyly: Cuellar( a LH Verlander), Dobson, Palmer,McNally

True. My point was that if he wants to create a Big Three around which to build a team, he has two-thirds of them under long-term contract, with Scherzer still up in the air. Maybe Smyly becomes part of that core one day, but I think it’s way too early for that.

Lombardozzi seems to be the new and improved Q

except his base stealing in the majors is 6 bases a year, with a 33% success rate. and yes, i saw he stole a lot of bases in the minors. So….what happened (looks at rich)?

Jason – was Ausmus at the press conference yesterday? How much influence do you think our new manager had in these flurry of moves? Obviously, he is not the GM, but the acquisition of guys that might be considered “grinders” (Kinsler and Lombardozzi) and the subtraction of boopers (Fielder and to an extent Peralta) could indicate a new game plan in Detroit. (Also the addition of a defensive coach)

Ausmus wasn’t there. He’ll be at the winter meetings next week.


lombardozzi has suspiciously low BABIP numbers in his MLB experience. Yet his line drive % is fairly league average. Does that mean he’s been unlucky so far at the MLB level? or something else?

Lombo is a good backup infielder who will be needed when Kinsler has his usual injuries. Switch hitter. More pop than my main man Santiago. Inexpensive. 25 years old with three years ML experience with a team that won 98 games in 2012.

seems like the Tigers are holding a Twins reunion tour for 2014…Hunter, Nathan, Lombardozzi Jr…who’s next?

Kubel? Too late for Morneau

i’d sign Kubel to a minor league deal. his power disappeared in 2013….317 SLG%

Red Sox have agreed to terms on a two-year, $9.5MM contract with right-hander Ed Mujica.
So that is 250K more a year than Veras. Where did those Veras savings go anyhow?

The more the relief market unfolds, the more surprised I am that $4 million was too much to pick up on Veras. Looks more about the reliever than the money.

Completely agree. Almost seemed like buyer’s remorse action. I thought he would be a good 7th or 8th inning guy, but obviously those that make the decision didn’t agree. No one has rushed to sign him though. Mujica was hit or miss last year in St. Louis.

Some other observations of recent events: Marlins’ signing of Saltalamacchia indicates they’ve soured on Rob Brantly’s future, the Royals’ trade for Aoki could signal that they’re out on Beltran, the Yankees front office/ownership hasn’t seem to learn anything from how the Red Sox retooled last year.

from the AP story on Aoki trade: ‘Veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran, who began his career with the Royals, spent time in Kansas City earlier this week. He’s reportedly seeking a three-year, $48 million deal.’ would the Tigers approach those terms for Beltran?

i pray not.

I would, Beltran would make us even better. Put him in left, that would be a solid lineup. And $16M for 3 years would be palatable.

he’s predicted to have a 1.9 WAR next year by steamer. Seems he has dropped off hard the recent years.
meet me in the middle: would the contract you’d sign him to have team cancellation options depending on the number of games played / days on dL?

What about Corey Hart?

Maybe. He fits the profile of what the Tigers could use, and he has some positional flexibility at corner OF/1B. He’s a right-handed hitter, though, and his plate discipline seems to be getting worse with age. Would be an interesting flyer if they wanted to take it.

Corey Hart’s name has come up in Tigers trade rumors for years! How old is that guy? 🙂

And I think he was injured most if not all of last year.

He played 149 games, over 600 PA, 30HR/ 83 RBI / .270. Problem …151 SO

True. He missed all 2013 with injuries in both knees

The pundents or talking heads rarely complement the Tigers moves or farm system. I think most folks thought they gave up to much when they got Fister. I like Fister, but I do think Porcello has more potential and will post better numbers this year than Doug did in 2013. The farm system has been hurt by trades and free agent signings, but the moves by DD has led to the Tigers owning the Central.

Miggy and Victor will have more RBI’s this year with more speed and better base runners in front of them. I look for Alex to have a year close to 2010. I think a new manager is going to benefit Alex and Ricky most of all.

“The ideal situation is Andy Dirks would play like he did two years ago,” Dombrowski said Wednesday”

Isn’t Grady Sizemore healthy now? If so, he could make a decent (and cheap) leftfielder. Had good range and a decent bat. He could, at least, platoon with Dirks.

that’s what I said a few days ago – the guy has some POP in his bat when he’s healthy too.

Grady hits from the left side, so he will not be a platoon with Dirks.

yea true. he hasn’t put in a full season since 2008 anyhow. I see him getting a shot somewhere, tho.

Somewhere in all this it seems like Benoit has been forgotten. What’s his status?

Not a fit: “I don’t see Joaquin coming back as a setup guy. No,” Dombrowski said. “I think somebody will sign him, by all indications, as a closer, so I don’t see that as a fit for us.”

Someone is going to give him closer $$, which we just gave to Nathan. Benoit would be great again in the 8th, he is just too pricey.

Will be Lobstein the second LH?

Alvarez, Ray and then Lobstein is my guess

Rich, I agree that you had a great post. The young people on this blog have not been thru this before. So what wins the WS? Yeah GK, you don’t FREAKING get it. Evan, have faith in DD. He is a professional. Go Tigers, 2014!

right i hear ya – it is what it is anyhow. I’m excited to see some energy from the new coaching staff and some of these youngsters at the least.

would anyone be interested in Pat Neshek for the pen? I know I know I hate his delivery too, but he’s tough on RHB and could be had for a mil or two a year, right?

Could the Mariners give Cano jersey # 24m???

Cano to Mariners, Granderson to Mets….should help the market move along

Man, they’re wheeling and dealing like some kind of out of control fantasy league.

if the rangers were smart they won’t sign napoli but rather leave the DH position open for Fielder to play at from time to time. If he gets the impression he’s a permanent fixture at 1B they’ll regret it.

He doesn’t like to DH. Leyland let him have his way. What happens if Texas doesn’t? Reality TV.

Interesting point, and one of the potential benefits of the Fielder trade was his insistence to play 1B every day. I got the feeling he would resist being a DH full time, much like our friend Delmon.

To be fair, I wouldn’t want to DH full time either. I did it, but I was also managing the team and staying involved. DHs with the last name of Martinez are a rare breed.
I’ll also add the Prince did upgrade his defense this year. He upgraded it from horrible but at least it was an improvement.

To be fair, one of my favorite Tigers, Carlos Guillen, wasn’t a fan of having his position changed.

Guillen was Ok to the move as soon it was to accommodate Rentería who was a good SS( at least in the NL).He tried his best to play 1b and let Miguel play third base but did not like being bounced around ( I would not like it either if Ihad to move to LF and DH to make space for Inge).

Around Pujols. Now we have the benchmark for Miguel´s extension.30/8? into his 38 years
He will be one year older by the time he reach FA but playing a less demanding position but with offensive numbers like those of Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson

I still think Scherzer is not worth Verlander´s money. 159 /6 of Greinke being the reasonable( under this market conditions) benchmark

Talk to Toronto.
How about Perez and Holaday for Colby Rasmus?

I agree. On a side note, Colby had a .356BABIP in 2013.

It is because he strikes out a ton. I like his defense but there is a reason they jokingly refer to him as Colby with a “K”. He has power too but Rogers Centre is a sandbox to hit in. I am on the fence with Rasmus.
— Bob

Big time power. Runs bases well though he doesn’t steal. “Gives it” on defense. Actually tracks a lot of ball down. Plays hard (as we all know!).
Andy as a 4th OFer would still get plenty time of filling in for AJ and Torii.
Perez is an unknown quantity and may not get to play here with Suarez closing the gap. Jays could use a 2nd sacker. They also have some useful pieces in the pen.

It’s true. I always thought the Jays and Tigers could have been partners for one of the Tigers starters. Rasmus does play hard and is an excellent fielder. The Ks would drive some folks crazy. He strikes out almost once every 3 at bats. That’s crazy. If he was our LFer, all 3 of our outfielders would strike out over 100 times.
— Bob

With the team currently not as good as last year’s, they need a real hitter to make up for it. I expect a trade, so there’s no point in guessing names.
They also need more bullpen pieces, but I’m not so sure DD sees it that way. They tend to rely on fragile arms.

Nate McLouth. HE GONE.

Curtis too.

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