December 6th, 2013

How Robinson Cano’s deal affects Tigers

No, the Tigers were never going to sign Robinson Cano. They never had a meeting with Cano, despite the speculative story that came out a couple weeks ago. They hadn’t even been talking with Cano’s agents, centered around Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay-Z, on the phone since the offseason got rolling. They weren’t going to take on that contract.

With that part out of the way, Cano’s reported 10-year, $240 million deal to go to Seattle is about to have ripple effects in Detroit with what the Tigers are trying to do.

For one, it throws the Yankees headfirst into the remaining free-agent market with money to spend and needs to fill. It’s not just about replacing Cano at second base, but filling his spot in the middle of the order. They can fill the void with some of the remaining outfielders on the market, with Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo around the top of the list.

Speculation already had New York among the top targets for Beltran, and a potential suitor for Choo. The Yankees can now go in with no shortage of money to offer. If they want to price teams out of the market and leverage their financial flexibility to get who they want, they can. If they want to move the market to the point where teams like the Tigers worry whether they’re adding another megacontract, they can.

That’s the immediate impact. The bigger impact might be down the road whenever the Tigers enter talks on a contract extension for Miguel Cabrera, the potentially the next guy that could move the market. If a 31-year-old Cano can match Albert Pujols for the largest contract signed by a baseball player not named Alex Rodriguez, what can Cabrera — six months younger and a two-time MVP, playing a position with more longevity — command? How will Cabrera age through his 30s? And can the Tigers create enough flexibility to afford Cabrera and Max Scherzer? That’s how the market works — the latest megadeal often sets the standard for the next one.

So to recap: Even with the flexibility gained by shedding Prince Fielder’s contract and saving money in the rotation by trading Doug Fister, keeping the core of this team together is not going to be easy. And with the Tigers and Yankees now potentially looking for the same help, trying to upgrade for a World Series run now just got tougher. It might be a crazy week at the Winter Meetings after all, at least on the latter.

TigerFest set for Saturday, Jan. 25

Get your schedule out for the last weekend in January. TigerFest returns in its usual spot near the end of the offseason. The Tigers’ annual winter warmup event is set for Saturday, Jan. 25 from 11am to 5pm at Comerica Park.

The schedule of events is familiar. Players and coaches will sign autographs in several booths set up around the park, including a kids-only line. The visiting clubhouse will feature a player photo area for fans to have their picture taken with their favorite Tigers stars. Self-guided tours will take fans into the Tigers executive offices, Ernie Harwell Media Center, luxury suite area and Champions Club. The undergoing batting tunnel will open for fans to take a few swings.

The main stage returns, including question-and-answer sessions with manager Brad Ausmus and the new coaching staff as well as members of the front office. The session with team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has become an annual state-of-the-franchise type of session, answering fan questions about offseason moves, but the highlight this year will be one of the first chances for fans to ask questions of Ausmus.

Activities for kids include a miniature Comerica Park stage featuring Tigers player book readings, games and activities, as well as free face-painting, baseball-themed games and a video game bullpen.

The Tigers have tried to take away some of the winter chill by covering and heating access areas inside Comerica Park, but fans are always encouraged to dress for the weather.

Tickets for TigerFest cost $25 for adults and $14 for kids ages 12 and under. They’ll go on sale Friday, Dec. 13 at 10am online at tigers.com/tigerfest and by phone at 866-66-TIGER.

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