Winter Meeting Roundup

The Tigers have yet to make a move at the winter meetings, but according to various reports, that hasn’t been their choice.

In what was probably the biggest news (ESPN insider) Javier Vasquez invoked his no-trade clause to block a trade between the Diamondbacks and Tigers. According to Peter Gammons the Tigers were prepared to send Joel Zumaya and Curtis Granderson to Arizona. My first reaction was thank you Javy. I’m a big fan of Granderson, and Zumaya’s future certainly looks bright. Upon a little bit of reflection though, I think that most Tiger fans would be very satisfied if Joel Zumaya ended up being the pitcher that Vazquez is today, yet there is no guarantee. To give up a pitcher of Vazquez’s ability the Diamondbacks would probably demand a player who could contribute today (Granderson) as well as a prospect. The price tag isn’t ridiculous. A lot of fans have called for a top of the rotation starter – and those have a high price.

However, I’m still glad that the trade didn’t happen. First, both Granderson and Zumaya are years away from arbitration, yet alone free agency. Vazquez is signed for the next two seasons for $23 million, which isn’t cheap even in today’s climate. Second, as a long suffering fan I’ve been waiting for the farm system to produce something. I want to see these guys succeed and for them to do it in a Detroit uniform. Third, while the price may have been fair, I still think it would have been a better deal for the Diamondbacks.

The other thing to remember is that just because this trade didn’t happen, it wouldn’t surprise me if Dave Dombrowski has received calls from other GM’s willing to part with pitchers for a Granderson/Zumaya package (ie Billy Beane offering up Zito).

(UPDATE: Dave Dombrowski and Josh Byrnes have denied all reports, acknowledging there was trade talk but that it never got to the point of Vazquez. Dombrowski said, “And I don’t mean to downplay [Vazquez] at all, but that is not an appealing situation for us.”

I don’t think it was an appealing situation for any of us. Phew.)

In addition to the Vazquez news, there was a report that the Tigers and Mets had discussions regarding Pudge Rodriguez. Talks broke down when the Tigers demanded too much. I consider this to be good news. I don’t think the Tigers should trade Rodriguez, because I don’t think they would get fair value with him coming off of a rough season. And while his contract has been mentioned as prohibitive, there are only two years left on it, making it much more manageable.

Rule 5 Primer
With the Tigers dropping Ryan Raburn, they are now able to participate in the Rule 5 draft. If you want to read up on who the Tigers might select, head over to Baseball Analysts where they break down some likely selections (incidentally no current Tiger minor leaguers are listed).

Arbitration Deadline
December 7th is also the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to potential free agents. In the Tigers case this may mean offers to Rondell White and Jason Johnson. Given the way the offseason is going, I’d be surprised if the Tigers don’t offer Johnson arbitration. If he accepts the Tigers have a league average inning eater for one season, and at a somewhat reasonable price. If he declines they get a draft pick. I’d imagine that Johnson is likely to decline arbitration given the fact the can get a multi-year deal. White may be more likely to accept because a one year deal will give him a chance to prove his shoulder is healed. The trouble is the Tigers don’t really have room for him.

Erie’s Coaching Staff
The Tigers announced that the coaching staff at AA Erie will return next year.

Sickels Top 20 in Review

John Sickels has posted his review of his 2005 top 20 Tiger prospects. Comparing last year’s list with what transpired, it is easy to say that the Tigers farm system is definitely looking better. Going into 2005, Justin Verlander, who hadn’t even pitched professionally was Sickels top-rated Tiger prospect. While Verlander had a very promising season, I think the preseason ranking had as much to do with the Tigers lack of talent as it did with Verlander’s potential.

While some guys such as Eric Beattie and Collin Mahoney turned in less than impressive seasons, several other prospects more than compensated. Jordan Tata and Brent Clevlen had huge years for Lakeland. Then there was the draft that yielded promising prospects and performances from Kevin Whelan and Clete Thomas – and that doesn’t even include the potential of Cameron Maybin.

Going in to 2006 the Tigers will be losing Curtis Granderson and Chris Shelton off the prospect list, but for all the right reasons. At least right now it looks like the Tigers farm system actually has some solid performers instead of (or at least in addition to) guys with potential.

Tigers Finalize 40 Man Roster

The Detroit Tigers have finalized their 40 man roster with the following transactions:

Purchased Contracts of:
Don Kelly
Joel Zumaya
Kyle Sleeth
Humberto Sanchez
Eulogio De La Cruz
Jordan Tata
Brent Clevlen
Kody Kirkland

Outrighted to Toledo contracts of:
Adam Peterson
Colby Lewis

The roster now stands at 40 players. The biggest omission is probably David Espinosa who the Tigers stand a decent chance of losing in the Rule 5 draft. Speaking of the Rule 5 draft, with the Tigers roster full, I believe that excludes them from participating.

To the best of my knowledge, this represents the Tigers current 40 man roster:


Player 2006 Contract Status Options

================ ==================== =======
Kenny Baugh Indentured Servant Yes
Roman Colon Indentured Servant Yes
Craig Dingman Indentured Servant No
Franklyn German Indentured Servant No
Jason Grilli Indentured Servant No
Preston Larrison Indentured Servant Yes
Wilfredo Ledezma Indentured Servant Yes
Nate Robertson Indentured Servant Yes
Fernando Rodney Indentured Servant Yes
Chris Spurling Indentured Servant Yes
Mark Woodyard Indentured Servant Yes
Tony Giarratano Indentured Servant Yes
Omar Infante Indentured Servant Yes
Ryan Raburn Indentured Servant Yes
Chris Shelton Indentured Servant Yes
C. Granderson Indentured Servant Yes
Nook Logan Indentured Servant Yes
Marcus Thames Indentured Servant No
Don Kelly Indentured Servant Yes
Joel Zumaya Indentured Servant Yes
Kyle Sleeth Indentured Servant Yes
Humberto Sanchez Indentured Servant Yes
E. De La Cruz Indentured Servant Yes
Jordan Tata Indentured Servant Yes
Brent Clevlen Indentured Servant Yes
Kody Kirkland Indentured Servant Yes

Jeremy Bonderman Arbitration Eligible Yes
Mike Maroth Arbitration Eligible Yes
Vance Wilson Arbitration Eligible No
Brandon Inge Arbitration Eligible No
Carlos Pena Arbitration Eligible No
Craig Monroe Arbitration Eligible Yes

Troy Percival Signed No
Justin Verlander Signed Yes
Jamie Walker Signed No
Ivan Rodriguez Signed No
Carlos Guillen Signed No
Placido Polanco Signed No
Magglio Ordonez Signed No
Dmitri Young Signed No

Roster Speculation

As the Tigers enter shopping season it is worth taking a look at their current roster status. Detroit currently has 35 players protected on their major league roster.

For those who haven’t taken the time to plow through the collective bargaining agreement, players can fall into one of three categories. The first category is players with less than 3 years of major league service time. These players have no negotiating leverage. They can be signed for the major league minimum, and there contracts can be renewed each year without any sort of raise. However, teams will typically give players nominal raises each year. These players are classified as indentured servants. (One footnote, players with less than 3 years, but who are in the top one sixth of those with 2+ years of service time are arbitration eligible).

The next category are players with more than 3 years of experience, but less than 6 years. Once a player gets to that magic 3 year mark they become “arbitration eligible.” This is when players finally have some leverage. The teams still retain the players rights – as long as they tender the player a contract. If the team tenders a contract, the two parties can either a) go to binding arbitration for a one year contract, or b) continue to negotiate. If the team doesn’t tender a contract, the player becomes a free agent.

The final category are free agents. These are the players with six or more years of service time. In these cases, a team can offer a player a contract. The player can accept the contract, go to arbitration, or become a free agent. If you’ve heard about draft pick compensation, this is where it comes into play. If a team loses a player to free agency, and they had tendered said player a contract, they can then receive compensatory draft picks based on how the player is ranked by the Elias Sports Bureau.

Below is a table of the Tigers’ current 40 man roster, and the players’ contract status.


Player 2006 Contract Status Options

Kenny Baugh Indentured Servant Yes
Roman Colon Indentured Servant Yes
Craig Dingman Indentured Servant No
Franklyn German Indentured Servant No
Jason Grilli Indentured Servant No
Preston Larrison Indentured Servant Yes
Wilfredo Ledezma Indentured Servant Yes
Adam Peterson Indentured Servant Yes
Nate Robertson Indentured Servant Yes
Fernando Rodney Indentured Servant Yes
Chris Spurling Indentured Servant Yes
Mark Woodyard Indentured Servant Yes
Tony Giarratano Indentured Servant Yes
Omar Infante Indentured Servant Yes
Ryan Raburn Indentured Servant Yes
Chris Shelton Indentured Servant Yes
C. Granderson Indentured Servant Yes
Nook Logan Indentured Servant Yes
Marcus Thames Indentured Servant No

Jeremy Bonderman Arbitration Eligible Yes
Andrew Good Arbitration Eligible Yes
Colby Lewis Arbitration Eligible Yes
Mike Maroth Arbitration Eligible Yes
Vance Wilson Arbitration Eligible No
Brandon Inge Arbitration Eligible No
Carlos Pena Arbitration Eligible No
Craig Monroe Arbitration Eligible Yes

Troy Percival Signed No
Justin Verlander Signed Yes
Jamie Walker Signed No
Ivan Rodriguez Signed No
Carlos Guillen Signed No
Placido Polanco Signed No
Magglio Ordonez Signed No
Dmitri Young Signed No

The Tigers currently hold the rights to 35 players, meaning there are 5 open spots. Of the players currently on the roster, most are expected to be retained (or at the very least traded for another major league player). Players most likely to be removed are Adam Peterson (who had a pretty poor AFL showing) and Andrew Good. Other possiblities for removal include Jason Grilli, Andrew Good, and Preston Larrison. It’s also unlikely that both Marcus Thames and Craig Monroe will be with the team next year.

The Tigers will most likely be looking to free up spaces as they look to sign free agents and protect several minor leaguers. One of the open spots will definitely go to Joel Zumaya who would most assuredly be picked in the Rule 5 draft. Zach Miner, who was acquired in the Kyle Farnsworth trade is also a likely candidate to be protected. Humberto Sanchez (who had a pretty solid AFL showing), David Espinosa, and Juan Tejeda are other candidates to be selected in the Rule 5 draft if not added to the 40 man roster.

The Tigers definitely will have some juggling to do in the coming month. It will be interesting to see how they value some of their prospects, and if they offer arbitration to any of their free agents (Jason Johnson, Rondell White).

Farnsworth speculation

There is an interesting post on the Atlanta Journal Constitutions Braves blog today. The bulk of the post is about Rafael Furcal’s likely destination (unfortunately probably not Detroit), but it also mentioned Kyle Farnsworth.

“Regarding the Braves? other biggest-name free agent, Kyle Farnsworth: The Braves are interested in keeping him, but only if he?s affordable. His last team before Atlanta, the Detroit Tigers, might be the only team willing to give Farnsworth anything close to what he hopes to get, because not many teams seem to be looking at him as a closer; rather, they see him as a setup guy and possible closer.

Mcdonald Traded & New Mud Hens

The Tigers traded John McDonald back to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations. This comes one week after the two teams completed their July trade by agreeing to cash considerations. Essentially, the Tigers rented McDonald for 3 months. The trade frees up an additional spot on the 40 man roster, and may indicate the clubs interest in acquiring another infielder this offseason.

I’m a little sad to see McDonald go, if only because he was so nice to my son when we went to a game.

New Mud Hens Logo
The Toledo Mud Huns unveiled a new logo today.
New Mud Hen Logo - HeadNew Mud Hen Primary Logo
I actually like the new logo quite a bit. Unfortunately I bought a Mud Hens hat a couple months ago. I guess now it will be vintage.

Maybin report

Cameron Maybin’s hometown paper, the Asheville Citizen Times, has a
nice article about his experience in the Detroit Tigers instructional league. There isn’t any major news in the article, but it echoes the favorable reviews that he received in an MLB.com article last week. The article speculates that Maybin may start at West Michigan next spring. Oh yeah, and the pic of Maybin in Tiger uniform is courtesy of Roger Dewitt. He has a whole collection of IL pics at Motown Sports.

In other minors-related news, the Tiger contingent has turned in mixed performances in the Arizona Fall League. Kody Kirkland continues to hit well in limited playing time. David Espinsosa started off hot, but as cooled down and seen his playing time diminsh as well. Don Kelly has struggled not only with the bat, but he has committed 4 errors as well.

As for the pitchers, Humberto Sanchez has had two very good outings, and two outings where he struggled – particularly with his command. Adam Peterson and Mark Woodyard have had a hard time getting hitters out.

Player      AB    H    HR    BB    SO    SB    AVG     OBP     SLG 
Kirkland    20    8     1     3     4     1    400     500     700 
Espinosa    46   12     1     7     6     1    261     352     370 
Kelly       55   13     0     6     5     2    236     306     273  

Player        G     IP     ERA     H     HR     BB     SO 
Sanchez       4   17.1    3.63    20      1     10     19 
Peterson      7    9.1    6.75    13      3      3      9 
Woodyard      4    5.0   12.60    14      1      3      6

The silver lining is that Espinosa’s slide may make him less attractive to other teams in the Rule 5 draft, meaning the Tigers may be able to retain him without giving up the roster spot.

Tigers AFL Update

The Arizona Fall League is about a week old, and it’s time to take a look at how the Tiger representatives are doing. The Tigers sent six players to the AFL: David Espinosa, Don Kelly, Kody Kirkland, Humberto Sanchez, Adam Peterson, and Mark Woodyard.

Player      AB    H    HR    BB    SO    SB    AVG     OBP     SLG
Kirkland     7    3     0     1     3     1    429     556     429
Espinosa    17    7     0     1     1     1    412     444     529
Kelly       20    6     0     1     2     0    300     318     300

Player        G     IP     ERA     H     HR     BB     SO
Sanchez       1    4.0    0.00     3      0      2      7
Peterson      3    4.1    4.15     5      2      1      5
Woodyard - DNP

Of the group Sanchez probably has been the most impressive. In his only appearance, over half of his outs came via the strikeout. He did battle a little wildness with a couple walks and a couple wild pitches, but it was very impressive nonetheless.

Peterson was hammered for both homeruns in his first outing, but has been effective in his two subsequent starts.

The position players have played reasonably well also, with all 3 hitting for a good average, but without much power.

It remains to be seen how much weight the organization will place on these performances. In the cases of Kirkland, Kelly, Espinosa, and Sanchez none are currently on the 40 man roster. If they aren’t added, they become eligible for the Rule 5 draft. A very good AFL showing could make these players more attractive to other teams looking for help, in turn forcing the Tigers to find a roster spot to avoid losing them.

To keep track of how the Tiger contingent, and the Mesa Solar Soxs are doing, MiLB.com has the
stats here.