Free Agent Filing Begins

Now that the World Series is over the 15 day free agent filing period is underway. The period gives teams an “exclusive” negotiating window in which players can talk to other teams, but not talk contract parameters. So we won’t know exactly what will happens with the Tigers quartet* of impending free agents for awhile, except that they will go through the procedure of filing for free agency.

Steve Kornacki of Mlive did some catching up with a few of the possibly future former Tigers and got their thoughts on returning.

Fernando Rodney would like to stay in Detroit but is looking for a 3 to 4 year deal. It’s safe to say that he won’t get a 3 or 4 year deal from anyone (maybe 2 years with a club option for a 3rd) so that doesn’t really clear things up.

Of course the Rodney situation is in some ways tied to Brandon Lyon’s status. Understandably Lyon would like some clarification on what his role would be if he were to sign with Detroit.

Continue reading Free Agent Filing Begins

Tigers not tapped out? In on Chapman?

There are a lot of unknowns heading into the Tigers offseason, but one constant assumption has been that the Tigers are working on a limited budget. The only dispute has been how limited. Now there may be reason to doubt that assumption as the Tigers have interest in Cuban southpaw Aroldis Chapman.

Chapman is 21 and comes with a 100mph fastball and the type of price tag that those traits typically warrant. He could find himself getting a Daisuke Matsuzaka type deal. That would seem to limit his suitors to those flush with cash to spend.

Chapman likely won’t end up in Detroit. I can’t see the Yankees or Mets or Red Sox letting him get away. But the fact that the Tigers are even interested in a meeting given the price tag tells me things might not be as fiscally dire as they appear.

The Dombrowski Presser

Dave Dombrowski met with the press today and fielded questions for about an hour. Jaosn Beck, Tom Gage, and John Lowe had it covered. There is enough there to warrant about 6 posts worth of further explanation. But until that happens…

Miguel Cabrera

Dombrowski had a range of emotions about the situation, many were negative, but it wasn’t the first time he’s been in this situation in his 20 years as GM. It’s not surprising that he believes Cabrera will take the necessary steps. As for the question on whether he should have played Saturday night, that gets a little more gray. The response was:

“First of all, you have some legalities that are involved. You probably should know the rules when it comes to the Basic Agreement (the collective-bargaining agreement between the clubs and the players union).

“Secondly, we thought he was capable of going out there and playing.”

I admit to knowing nothing about the rules involved when a player has been drinking and is scheduled to play. I will say the answer was somewhat evasive in that they “thought” he was capable of playing. There was no comment on whether they thought they made the right decision.
Continue reading The Dombrowski Presser

Tigers sign Rincon

The Tiger announced the signing of Juan Rincon to a minor league deal today. Rincon will get an invite to spring training and will be given a chance to make the Tigers bullpen.

This looks to be a decent signing. Rincon was a stud in 2004 through 2006. But he was busted for steroid use. In 2007 and 2008 he saw his home run rate balloon. In 04 throuh 06 he allowed 9 homers total. He allowed 9 in 2007 and 8 in 2008.

Still, it’s a low risk move and the type of signing I’d hope the team would make several of as they try and build their pen on the cheap.

Juan Rincon » Statistics » Pitching | FanGraphs Baseball

Tigers sign Fu-Te Ni

The Tigers have turned to the Pacific Rim to bring in another reliever candidate (yeah, here’s the nearly as confusing translated version). Fu-Te Ni is a lefty reliever from Taiwan. What we can ascertain, thanks in large part this comment and this post from East Wind Up Chronicle, that he will be starting in AAA.

Commentor Yu-Hsing Chen did all the lifting on this on, including digging up some YouTube-y goodness:

Ni is 26 and from the above video his fastball appears to top out at 87 mph. It looks like he has a breaking ball that sits in the mid 70’s. It appears that he had garnered some interest from the Mariners as well. Ni is billed as The Taiwanese Okajima.

This is the second Taiwan signing for the Tigers in the last 2 years with Chao-Ting Tang debuting in the GCL this year.

Tigers relief options dwindling

As we move closer to spring training, the Tigers bullpen still remains highly questionable. This hasn’t bothered me for the most part due to the number of options on the market. And while still not bothered, I am growing more concerned as two more of those options are close to signing deals.

Trevor Hoffman doesn’t appear to be an option as he mulls over a one year offer from the Dodgers amidst reports that he is close to a deal with the Brewers.

Another intriguing possibility, Michigan native John Smoltz, is set to sign with the Red Sos for a $5.5 million base and incentives that could push the deal to $10 million.

I don’t know how excited I would be about either option, but knowing they were out there made me feel better about the Tigers situation. The market for relievers isn’t barren yet. Juan Cruz is in compensation pick purgatory and Brandon Lyon is still available. But the only Tigers rumor floating is that they will watch Chad Cordero throw, along with a third of the league. For a bullpen that has exactly one member who is both productive and not a huge injury risk (Bobby Seay), that doesn’t really instill the warm fuzzies.

Tigers sign Alexis Gomez

Normally the Tigers signing an outfielder to a minor league deal wouldn’t elicit a post from me, but these are slow news times and this is Alexis Gomez. Jason Beck points out that Gomez is left handed and an outfielder, the kind of player that Matt Joyce was but without the upside (I know, let it go). The hope here is that this move is inconsequential. I have nothing against Gomez per se, but I do worry about the ways in which Jim Leyland may ultimately misuse him.

Prices are dropping, but will it matter?

Buster Olney weighs in on how the economy is impacting team spending:

Throughout baseball, budgets are being downsized from week to week to reflect the latest read on the economy, and what you are about to see — once the smoke clears from the Sabathia and Burnett and Teixeira news conferences — is a stunning drop in salaries for the free agents, a time when solid veteran players might be fortunate to get one-year offers for $5 million to $8 million. General managers throughout the game are reporting, on background, that their payrolls are being locked down, cut down, slashed.

It’s a topic that I’ve speculated on (mostly in the video chats) as it relates to the Tigers. Before the global recession hammered the Big 3 and they had to go looking to the government for money, Dave Dombrowski said he was looking at a payroll in line with last year. But with a dip in attendance that could likely go beyond the slippage due to the team’s disappointing 2008, plus a potential loss of GM sponsorship money, the Tigers could be in a different mindset.

Did they save money on the Adam Everett, Gerald Laird, and Matt Treanor deals, or were they spending what they had to spend? Was Edwin Jackson acquired because $3 million is all they have to invest in the rotation?

With $105 million committed to 14 players, and a likely $9-10 million committed to Fernando Rodney, Marcus Thames, Gerald Laird, Edwin Jackson, and Bobby Seay, That leaves about $15-$20 million to cover Justin Verlander*, 4 guys earning the minimum, and an upgrade to the bullpen. Plus I don’t know if Renteria’s $3 million buyout counts against the total.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that as Olney points out, prices are dropping. And for those worried about the Tigers lack of moves in the bullpen, it isn’t a cause for concern yet. It’s still a buyers market with Brian Fuentes, Trevor Hoffman, Brandon Lyon, and Juan Cruz available. Fuentes and Cruz are undesirable due to the cost of second round draft picks. But as a group there are 4 arms, 3 of which should be in the Tigers price range, and all of which would be an upgrade.

Now if the calendar flips to February, and the four aforementioned guys are packing bags for other destinations, then I’ll join you in being uneasy about a bullpen made up of last year’s incumbents, Casey Fien, and the draft class of 2008.

Winter Meetings – Heading to Day 4

Could James Skelton be looking at a new team - cr Roger Dewitt
Could James Skelton be looking at a new team - cr Roger Dewitt

On the last day of the Winter Meetings things shift a little bit to the Rule 5 draft. Okay, not everything shifts to that, but it will be the focus in this here blog post.

A quick rule 5 primer is that teams can’t bury players in the minors forever. Eventually they have to add them to the 40 man roster or risk losing them to other teams. The time limit for this varies based on the player’s age when they signed. Teams with open space on their 40 man roster can select from this pool of players, but the catch is said player has to stay on the 25 man roster all season, or the player has to be offered back to the original team.
Continue reading Winter Meetings – Heading to Day 4

Winter Meetings – Heading to Day 3

I had so much hope after the first day of the winter meetings. The Tigers had two holes filled with plenty of money to fix the bullpen. Things aren’t going according to my plan.

Francisco Rodriguez was never an option for the Tigers, but he’s with the Mets. Kerry Wood was a very attractive, no compensatory draft pick, choice. But Wood chose the Indians.

The Tigers are still interested in J.J. Putz, but so are the Brewers. The Brewers have a better system and I don’t want the Tigers to get into a bidding war. Already Matt Joyce AND Jeff Larish AND Luis Marte have been discussed. That’s way too much for a guy with elbow ligament issues. It would be reminiscent of the Renteria trade in which the team instantly gets older. Joyce can’t be part of that deal.

But it sounds like the Mariners aren’t finding any matches and it’s unclear of the Tigers met with the Mariners today.

Brandon Lyon is a secondary arm I’d like to see the Tigers add. He’s talking to the Red Sox now.

Yes, Brian Fuentes (Rosenthal says the Tigers are interested in Fuentes) and Juan Cruz are still out there. Either would mean parting with the second round pick in next year’s draft.

Meanwhile the Tigers don’t like the Bobby Seay-Clay Rapada-Nate Robertson possibilities as lefties and continue to pursue Joe Beimel. Beimel is suitable as a LOOGY, but he wouldn’t be paid or used that way. The guy has walked more right handed batters in his career than he’s struck out. Don’t be fooled by the low ERA last year. Other than an ability to limit homers he isn’t a good pitcher.

If they can’t get Beimel then John Parrish is the back-up plan. Parrish has walked 6.10 batters per 9 innings over his career. Yippee. The walk numbers have been more mediocre to not good as of late, but the K-rate has gone the same way. He strikes me more as a spring training NRI than someone worthy of a 40 man roster spot.

Here’s hoping tomorrow is a better day.

UDPATE Wednesday 5:58 a.m.:

UPDATE Wednesday 7:43 p.m. Thanks to everyone for participating and keeping the rumors flowing today. Sheffield and Smoltz? Huh.

Tigers agree to terms with Adam Everett

Things are really starting to pick up for the Tigers after a slow start to the offseason. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Detroit has agreed to a one year, one million dollar contract with some incentives. The deal is contingent on Everett passing a physical, but the Tigers must feel confident that his shoulder is healed after watching him workout yesterday.

Presumably Everett will split time with Ramon Santiago. Analysis will be forthcoming. In the meantime check out a wins-above-replacement analysis of the shortstops the Tigers were targeting.

The quick and dirty is: 1. Everett is a steal at one million 2. The left side of the infield looks to be very solid. 3. The bottom third of the order will likely be close-your-eyes bad. 4. Jack Wilson talk should subside until at least the trade deadline. 5. The Tigers have filled 2 needs and haven’t spent anything.

UPDATE: Despite an earlier denial by Dave Dombrowski this appears to be moving towards official. The denial is likely procedural until the MRI is done – which probably includes an MRI on the shoulder.

My thoughts haven’t changed too much, but in terms of value Everett is within a half win of Jack Wilson at a fraction of the cost. Or as Dave Cameron said in his analysis about the Tigers moves today:

This is a pretty massive steal for the Tigers, and along with the Gerald Laird trade earlier today, they’ve added something like three wins to their roster in 12 hours and spent a grand total of about $4 million to do so.

Heck of a day for Dave Dombrowski.

Winter Meeting Eve Rumor Roundup

Are Larish and Thames on the trading block?
Are Larish and Thames on the trading block?
UPDATED 12.08.08 5:08 a.m.

Tomorrow is the start of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas and things are going to get crazy-stupid when it comes to rumors and people who saw people talking to people. It was at the winter meetings last year (a year ago last Thursday to be exact) when the Tigers traded for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. It was a move that came out of nowhere, so you never know what will happen. With that in mind, here is a cautious look at Tigers related rumors before the meetings begin.
Continue reading Winter Meeting Eve Rumor Roundup