V-Mart press conference postscript: What’s next?

Victor Martinez is officially back, obviously. So is Joel Hanrahan, though he has to show his arm his healthy to advance from minor-league contract to Major League roster spot and activate his $1 million base salary. Torii Hunter, barring an unexpected twist, will not be back, as Dave Dombrowski answered Friday.

As for Max Scherzer, well, Dombrowski sounded noncommittal. If anything, he sounded more open to the possibility of a return than he did at his end-of-season press conference last month.

“I have no idea,” Dombrowski said. “I wouldn’t even expect to at this point. Again, it’s only the middle of November. He has Scott [Boras] as his representative and he generally doesn’t move things quickly. So I wouldn’t even think I’d have a pulse on that.”

Dombrowski did not answer whether he has talked with Boras. Asked if the Martinez signing rules out Scherzer’s return, Dombrowski said, “We’ll just wait and we’ll see what happens.”

That’s a slight difference from last month, when Dombrowski said, “I think we probably made more of an effort to sign Max earlier in the year, so I don’t think your odds improve than what they were earlier. What I said at the time to them, why would they improve if we have one-on-one ability to speak with you, compared to having 29 other clubs speak with you? Only time will tell.”

It’s worth noting that the October comment came before extensive talks with owner Mike Ilitch on what the team can do. As the Tigers celebrated Victor Martinez’s return Friday, it was clear that a large part of it had to do with Ilitch being willing to make the investment and outbid other teams.

That was a 4-year, $68 million deal. Scherzer’s eventual contract will surely dwarf that. He passed on Detroit’s reported six-year, $144 million offer in Spring Training, then backed up his decision with an 18-win season that compared favorably to his Cy Young campaign of 2013. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman wrote during the GM Meetings this week that the Scherzer market seems quiet, but that’s not particularly rare early for free agents under Boras (Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez come to mind).

If Ilitch is involved, expect Boras to try to get the Tigers into the mix. And unlike the Stephen Drew and Rafael Soriano sagas of the past couple years, the Tigers organization would presumably be on board for another run at Scherzer. Martinez was the latest example of Ilitch rewarding a player who wins for him.

“We’ll just wait and see how that happens,” Dombrowski said. “But I will say we’re comfortable with the four starters that we have, and we’re also comfortable going with a fifth guy that’s a young guy, if we get into that situation. We did acquire David Price, as we said at the time, to help us in this type of situation.”

Perhaps the highlight of Friday’s press conference came when Ilitch was asked if the Martinez deal was a statement that he’s still in a win-now mode.

“Yeah, I’m ok,” Ilitch said as he reached for his wallet. “I’ve got some $20s in here.”

Other notes from Friday:

  • Dombrowski did not want to get into Yasmany Tomas, the slugging Cuban outfielder who’s expected to draw a bigger contract than fellow countryman Rusney Castillo did this summer. Every sign so far, however, is that Detroit won’t be in play for Tomas. While they were presumably at his public workout in the Dominican, they hadn’t held a private workout for him as of last week, at a time when most teams seriously involved had already done so. And if they couldn’t outbid the Red Sox in August for Castillo, who fit the Tigers’ needs in center field, it’s hard to see them going beyond that level for a right-handed power hitting corner outfielder.
  • Dombrowski didn’t address trade rumors involving Alex Avila, but his uncertainty about the catching situation suggested Avila is potentially in play. While Dombrowski ran down the list of pieces in his lineup, he mentioned Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Nick Castellanos, Jose Iglesias, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez, Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose, but he did not mention Avila specifically, only that “you have two catchers.” As for the trade rumors, Dombrowski said, “I wouldn’t get into any individual discussions. I would say that at the General Managers meetings, I was probably asked about every player just about that we have, at one time or another.”
  • Dombrowski indicated they have not shut the door on the rest of their free agents — Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Jim Johnson and Don Kelly. “We’ve had conversations with them,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think we’ve closed the door. I mean, they’ve got a pulse of where we are.”
  • Dombrowski was asked if he felt they’d have enough in their bullpen if they went to spring training with the guys they have now, including Bruce Rondon, Joakim Soria and Joe Nathan in the late innings. “Yes,” he said. “You can get better, but like we talked about in Joe’s case, we all know he didn’t have the year that we were hopeful he would, but he pitched and did all right for us back there. And now we’re in a situation where if he doesn’t get the job done, we feel like we have a guy in Soria to replace him. We like Soria a great deal.”
  • The above comment does not mean the Tigers aren’t looking. “We’ll see how we’ll deal with it,” Dombrowski said a few minutes later. “I’m not ready to say we’re done, but I’m not in a point of mass emergency.”
  • As for a lefty reliever to add to that list, Dombrowski said, “We’ll see what happens.”
  • Dombrowski indicated he’s more confident in Rondon returning from Tommy John surgery than he is in Hanrahan. “I’m hopeful,” Dombrowski said of Hanrahan, “but I really don’t know. We’re in a situation where he’s had a lot of ups and downs, but he is a long time past Tommy John [surgery], we’ll just wait and see, I don’t really know the answer.”


If they sign Scherzer and dont trade one starter… double down, “in the long run we are all dead”

Scherzer might be good enough to give the Tigers a final chance to meet or beat the best offer out there. it’s just guesswork on how Ilitch would react to that sort of ultimatum.

“…a fifth guy that’s a young guy,…” Lobstein? Ray? Farmer? Someone else? Who is really ready? Plus they really need a 6th guy (at Toledo) in case one of the top 4 goes on the DL. Sanchez and Verlander come to mind.
I am neutral on Torii but if he leaves and JD moves to RF, as some have suggested, that leaves a void in LF? Dirks is gone. Moya, Collins?

While Rajai punished LH pitching, he also hit for a slightly higher average than Gose against RH pitching.

I think the team is good enough to compete for the division (win it) with or without Scherzer. First they have to get though the winter without any crippling injuries.

Just want to add how good it was to see Mr. Ilitch at the press conference and cracking jokes. We’ve missed out on some good Cuban players, but I’m not holding my breath for Tomas. Maybe the team is a finished product at this point. Only time will tell.

did Mr. I just suggest he could add a couple more 20 Million dollar players?

“Tigers have committed more future $ than every team in MLB except Dodgers, per this excellent @mlbtraderumors piece: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/11/future-payroll-obligations-by-team.html

Well we had Price, Scherzer Verlander Porcello and Sanchez ( but obviously he was limited) the year before take out Price and add a Fister. Better looking rotations than either San Fran or KC Boston last year. Just wondering if these so called “fabulous rotations” are all they are cracked up to be or necessary. One stopper and a great pen. We didn’t have a stopper in the bunch. Scherzer hasn’t been great in the playoffs for the most part….so I guess I would say so long. Not worth the money.

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The way that I look at it, Price is more valuable than Scherzer. You would get more longevity from Price as he he could be your number one starter for the next 6 to 7 years and win 20, 21, 22 games per year with a little offensive help. So he would be worth more money than you would say Scherzer.

I hope he is wrong:
“ll the speed in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t get on base. As a Blue Jay, he hit .234/.301/.332 in 202 games”
301 OBP? 316 vs RHP

He’ll be getting on them base paths as a pinch runner, much more often in DET than in TOR. amiright?

Scott Boras told us that he has not heard from anyone from the Tigers saying that they are not in on Scherzer #Tigers

As long as they dont trade Price to make room for him

Ha! Good one.

somebody in the media needs to ask Boras if anyone from the Tigers has contacted him in the last month with interest in resuming negotiations on Scherzer. would put his agent-speak gibberish to rest, if he would actually give a truthful answer. i’m pretty sure he’d dodge the question.

i’m pretty sure Dombrowski has moved on…the Price trade signaled that. what isn’t known is whether Ilitch is on the same page, and he of course, has the final say.

So, he needs to be bailed out again ? Nobody is fool enough to give him more than 144/6? There must be a reason to put pressure on the Tigers

I’d prefer Price over Scherzer. Younger, left handed, can go deep, and is a better pitcher.

can field his position better to boot.

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