Amidst outfield rumors, Tigers focus on pitching
Now that the Tigers are closing in on their pitching needs, the baseball industry is waiting to see whether the Tigers try for one more addition for their offense. For now, however, general manager Al Avila insists pitching is their focus.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com cited sources Monday morning that Detroit is looking at former Tiger Yoenis Cespedes and fellow free agent Alex Gordon as potential outfield options. As of Sunday night, though, Avila said that pitching was their focus at the meetings, and that hitting was a secondary item that could be addressed down the road.
“We feel that if we fix our pitching, we have enough hitting,” Avila said. “That doesn’t mean that you don’t try to tweak something. And it might not happen here [at the Winter Meetings], probably won’t happen here. It could happen in Spring Training. It might happen during the season, where you might make adjustments with the offense depending on need.”
The Tigers have since agreed to terms with right-handed reliever Mark Lowe on a reported two-year contract. They’re still looking for one more reliever, expected to be a left-hander. The top of the lefty relief market still hasn’t moved, with Tony Sipp and Antonio Bastardo at the top of the class and Brian Duensing and Franklin Morales also in the mix. The Tigers are believed to have cast a wide net, though reports of Sipp seeking a three-year deal could give Detroit reason for pause.
Others in the organization echoed on Monday that pitching remains the priority. It doesn’t mean that the Tigers won’t look to improve the outfield. It doesn’t even mean the Tigers have completely closed the door on a Cespedes return. But while the Tigers have been aggressively moving on pitching additions, indications up to this point have been that they could wait out the outfield market. Jason Heyward heads up the free-agent crop, while Ben Zobrist, Justin Upton and Gerardo Parra are also on the list. Zobrist could be the first to sign, reportedly narrowing his choices and aiming for a decision by the end of the Winter Meetings.
If the Tigers do nothing, they’ll likely open the season with a mix of Anthony Gose, Cameron Maybin and Tyler Collins for left and center field. Avila said last week that he’d be “comfortable” opening the season with who they have now in the outfield, but didn’t eliminate the possibility of an outfield addition.