I think it’s clear that the Tigers bullpen situation will be an on going saga. It’s been the lead story leading up to Tigerfest and will likely hold that distinction throughout spring training (unless of course someone gets injured in the World Baseball Classic). Without an established and healthy closer available, anyone that is brought in to help the pen wouldn’t be a lock to close games anyways.
Jon Paul Morosi (who’s blogging has been top notch of late) adds some back story to the Matt Joyce and Edwin Jackson trade. It turns out B.J. Upton’s bum shoulder may have been what prevented J.J. Putz from coming to Detroit and opening up the Jackson deal. The Rays knew about Upton’s shoulder problems and didn’t want to leave themselves without a centerfielder.
You may remember that the Tigers’ best chance to acquire Putz came during three-way conversations that included the Rays and Mariners.
Seattle officials wanted a centerfielder, and they did not believe that Detroit prospect Matt Joyce could play the position on an everyday basis. So, the centerfielder would have needed to come from Tampa Bay – and the Mariners wanted Perez.
If Tampa Bay had been willing to trade Perez, it’s likely that Putz would be a Tiger right now. But the Rays were reluctant to do so, for a reason that is now apparent.
So that is how J.J. Putz slipped away. As for the rest of the closer options, the Tigers couldn’t find a fit dollars and interest wise. That leaves the Tigers looking at a group that includes Brandon Lyon, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, and Chad Cordero.
Of the three, Lyon is the only one that is healthy and is probably the safest bet. I don’t know whether he can close (he lost the job last year), but would still be a solid addition to the Tigers pen and wouldn’t cost a draft pick like Juan Cruz would. It sounds like the Tigers are still interested.
Isringhausen and Cordero are both injury reclamation projects. Cordero has the higher upside, and is attracting the attention of 10 teams. Isringhausen is probably easier to snag with 4 teams vying for his services. But Isringhausen is past his prime and really hasn’t been healthy since 2006. I do agree with Morosi that if he comes cheaply it is worth seeing what he can offer. Given the state of the bullpen, quantity is a good thing.
As each of the four players weigh their options, the Tigers do have one thing they can offer to them besides money, a very legitimate shot to be the closer.