I don’t remember the general manager meetings being this interesting in past years. Most of the action seems to usually take place at the winter meetings that take place in December. This year the GM meetings have served Tigers fans up with a disconcerting set of rumors with the Tigers making most of the team available for trade. But does this qualify as a fire sale?
It all started Tuesday night when the news hit that Edwin Jackson could be available along with Gerald Laird. Things got more interesting Wednesday afternoon when a New York Post story cited a National League executive who said the Tigers were listening to offers on Curtis Granderson. Olney later tweeted the same information. With two All Stars potentially on the block, a depressed economic region, and a payroll that leaves little flexibility the phrases “financial difficulty” and “fire sale” began working their way into columns. By evening Jon Heyman added Brandon Inge (h/t MLBTR) to the list of those the Tigers could be looking to trade. Are the Tigers slashing payroll?
Dave Dombrowski denied that the Tigers were in fire sale mode. He also iterated that the Tigers don’t have a set payroll yet from Mike Ilitch. So if the Tigers aren’t cutting and slashing the payroll, what is behind all the rumor and speculation?
When the Jackson rumor hit we went through a number of factors and possible scenarios. With Granderson and Inge added to the list it clears up a lot of the possibilities but I don’t think it points to payroll slashing. What I do think it confirms – and this isn’t a surprise – is that the team likely has limited flexibility with their payroll.
What we’re seeing now is every player on the roster with potential value being floated. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Miguel Cabrera’s name or Justin Verlander’s names pop up in the coming weeks. The Tigers have holes to fill and limited means to fill them. They also have a number of contracts coming off the books after 2010. If the Tigers trade a player or two to fill a couple holes and get younger or cheaper at the same time, it’s a win – especially going into a season where playoff aspirations are likely limited.
Granderson, Laird, Jackson, and Inge all make some money, but the 4 are a relatively small part of the overall payroll. Moving one or two of them isn’t going to have a significant financial impact. It’s more a matter of improving the team in the long run.
With Granderson and Jackson in particular the Tigers would be able to net a significant package. These players aren’t going to be given away which means that it is unlikely they are going anywhere, and if they do the team stands to be better for it.*
*The above paragraph is my best attempt at taking a cold and analytical look at the situation. The fan in me is sick about the thought of Curtis Granderson playing for another team. So maybe on second thought the paragraph is an attempt at rationalizing the minimal likelihood of a Granderson trade to make me feel better.