After 99 long days, a collective bargaining agreement is in place, the lockout is over, Major League Baseball is back, and we’re ready for Detroit Tigers baseball again. With Spring Training beginning immediately and Opening Day set for April 7th, teams will be looking to quickly make roster moves to bring in players to improve their chances of competing for a World Series championship. This means we could be looking at a free agent frenzy quickly, starting tonight:
What the Tigers have done so far…
The Detroit Tigers have made some waves during the first half of this offseason. Off the heels of their surprising 77-win season, the Tigers addressed a need at catcher early, trading for Tucker Barnhart from the Cincinnati Reds. Barnhart instantly provides an immediate upgrade behind the plate and brings excellence at framing pitches for the young Tigers’ pitching staff. Al Avila stated that Barnhart was one of their top priorities in the offseason.
The Tigers went out later in November and made a major upgrade to bolster their starting rotation, signing left-handed starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to a 5-year deal, $77-million deal. E-Rod’s addition to the young starting rotation of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning will help balance out the starting rotation and bring a veteran presence that’s ready to bounce back from a sub-par 2021 season.
Finally, the Tigers made their biggest splash of the offseason right before the lockout began, adding shortstop Javier Báez to a 6-year, $140 million deal. This was the biggest need for the Tigers in the offseason, desperately upgrading the middle of the infield with one of the elite infielders in MLB. While Báez did lead the majors in strikeouts (184) during the 2021 season, two notes of optimism for Tigers’ fans are that after Báez was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the New York Mets at the trade deadline, he struck out at a lesser rate (1.43 strikeouts/game with the Cubs vs 1.12 strikeouts/game with the Mets) and increased his OBP from .292 to .371 during his 47 games with the Mets.
What the Tigers should do now…
The Tigers’ top priority for the remainder of this offseason should be to add a fifth starter to the rotation and depth in the bullpen. The big names left in the free agency pool will be the names that Tiger fans will want the team to pursue and the biggest name rumored to be a Tigers target is left-handed starting pitcher Carlos Rodón. With Rodón being one of the biggest name free agents left on the market, and with as much as the Tigers have already spent on starting pitching, it is uncertain as to whether or not the Tigers will be willing to spend what Rodón will be looking for in a deal.
Not spending as much for the bigger names and rolling the dice on lesser-named commodities could help pay off for the Tigers this season, especially if there are more major developments in the farm system.
The Tigers will also likely be active in the trade market, but regardless if they will make a move right out of the gate when free agency opens back up, the front office knows what holes still need to be filled in order to take the next step and get the entire team together in Lakeland to prepare for the 2022 season.
Who should the Tigers target during the remainder of this offseason? Let us know in the comments below!
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