Monday, December 09, 2013

Tigers done wheeling and dealing? Doubt it

Gone from the Tigers is much of their nucleus from the past two seasons. Prince Fielder and Doug Fister have been traded. Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta and Joaquin Benoit will not be back as free agents. The Tigers added a new second baseman in Ian Kinlser and closer in Joe Nathan. along with a couple of bit parts from Washington in the Fister trade (situational left Ian Krol and utilityman Steve Lombardozzi).
Are they better? Could be.
It still depends on what the Tigers do the remainder of the off season.

Dombrowski: More needs to be done
Despite general manager Dave Dombrowski's contention the Tigers likely won't make another big-money free agent signing, we've heard that before, and the Tigers still signed outfielder Johnny Damon and Fielder late in the process. It's not Dombrowski telling fibs, but he market does change, especially for those players not signed after this week's winter meetings.
Bruce Rondon is capable of being the Tigers' setup man. He did make significant progress last season. He was a completely different pitcher after being sent to the minor leagues. His WHIP was below 1.2, and he stuck out more than a hitter per inning has last 20 apperances when his ERA was 2.29.
Rondon throws 100 mph consistently and is menacing presence on the mound. The Tigers' put way to much on him too early by anointing his as closer last off season, but not now.
Bullpen depth is key. The Tigers must add more. They got away with their backend of their bullpen being below average last season because their starting staff is so effective and avoided long-term injury. They need to cover their tracks better in that area this winter. Given Dombrowski is calculated and usually quite astute, my guess is they will.
Another factor is contract negotiations with arbitration-eligible players such as Austin Jackson, Alex Avila and Rick Porcello. Each is due a big raise, and there should long-term negotiations with all three to try to sign them so their contracts go beyond their free agency years (it would be after 2015 for each). If those negotiations don't go well, or even before they are to go arbitration, a trade very much could come into play for all three.


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