The Winter Meetings kicked off today. My fellow bloggers have already commented on how it will be a fairly quiet meetings for the Tigers. That’s what happens when you fill your biggest needs within a couple weeks of the end of the season.
Still, I don’t think the Tigers are done this offseason. While I don’t expect big moves from Detroit during the Winter Meetings, there is still work to be done. The Tigers still have a number of players to tender contracts to. There are currently only 16 members of the team who are signed, and likely to be on the 25 man roster. At least two of those players could be in for a substantial payday.
Curtis Granderson is entering his last year of indentured servitude. The Tigers could sign him for half a million and be done with it. However, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a 5 year deal which would buy him out of his arbitration years and first year of free agency. That would gain the team cost certainty through 2012 which also coincide with the years where he figures to be in his prime.
Nate Roberston is entering his 2nd year of arbitration eligibility. I’d expect that the Tigers ink him to a 2 or 3 year deal. Again, the Tigers would gain cost certainty. And with a two or three year deal it’s unlikely that Robertson would be blocking anyone. The Tigers will need a starter to replace Kenny Rogers next year, so even if a young pitcher steps up there will be room.
The last player who could see an extended deal is Justin Verlander, but I don’t see it this year. Verlander is still signed through 2009, so there is less incentive to lock him up.
The other reason I don’t think they are done, is because the offseason has it’s share of mixed messages. The Tigers big move was the Edgar Renteria trade which has win-now written all over it. And despite what you think of Kenny Rogers and Todd Jones, one year contracts for the pair of aging players indicate that the team is not only in win-now, but win-this-year mode.
But that can’t be it right? If the Tigers are are working with urgency, why have 2/5ths of the rotation be so questionable? Counting on Rogers for more than 150 innings given his age is risky. Counting on a combination of Andrew Miller/Chad Durbin/Yorman Bazardo, and who ever else is risky as well. Don’t the Tigers have to mitigate the risk of these two pieces of the rotation by bringing in somebody? It doesn’t have to be a Carlos Silva (although I wouldn’t complain). A risky pitcher coming off an injury willing to take a one year deal would be perfect. Then you’re looking at a group of pitchers to fill the back end, without relying on any one.
Dombrowski seems content to have a competition for that 5th spot, but I’m more worried about the combination of the last 2 spots.
And then there’s the bullpen. The Tigers are a little boxed in with a number of players out of options (Jose Capellan, Yorman Bazardo, Chad Durbin, Jason Grilli, Francisco Cruceta). Joel Zumaya shouldn’t be counted on this year, even if the doctors are confident, because it is unchartered territory with this injury. I like the addition of Cruceta as a low risk, high upside guy.
But Cruceta becomes a high risk guy if it means the Tigers don’t pursue other options. Fortunately, the Tigers are at least doing due diligence. Jason Beck reports that the Tigers are meeting with Octavio Dotel’s agent tonight. And they are expected to talk with Latroy Hawkins people and Beck reports that Dombrowski has been involved in preliminary trade discussions. Of course the Tigers have to move Chris Shelton in the next couple days, so maybe it’s nothing.
The details of Rogers’ contract have been revealed. He will make an $8 million base salary with performance incentives for innings pitched. He will receive $250,000 for hitting each of the 150, 160, 170, and 180 inning plateaus. He will also receive $500,000 for reaching 190 and 200 innings meaning the total value could reach $10 million.
When I looked at what the Tigers should pay Rogers it appears that the Tigers did well. They are at the higher end, but only marginally so, in terms of guaranteed dollars. But even with the incentives the Tigers should come out ahead. If Rogers is able to pitch 200 innings the $10 million could be a steal. Given the intangible value that the team sees in Rogers this seems like a win.