Dec. 31, 2016
No Roar in the Tigers Winter Thus Far
After weeks and weeks of speculation and trade rumors, the Detroit Tigers still have the same roster in tack for the most part, with the subtraction of Cameron Maybin, and none of the players included in those rumors have been traded. If that is pure coincidence or an illustration of how trade rumors can sometimes be overblown, has yet to be seen, but the Tigers have had virtually no roar in them all winter long.
Going into this winter, the Tigers wanted to remain as competitive as possible, while trying to trim some payroll from last year's numbers. From a league standpoint, the Tigers ranked fourth last season with a $205.8 million dollar payroll which put them behind the league leading Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. That's an amount that is even profuse for a team like Detroit given their market size and conditions.
As soon as the World Series ended, trade rumors started heating up and involved players like Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, and even Miguel Cabrera. All five of those names are the heart and soul of the Tigers and provide a big boost to the team year in and year out.
Diving into the Tigers roster at a deeper level, you could easily say that they might need a centerfielder along with potentially more bullpen arms, but in reality their roster is as good as any other contending team in the American League. As it stands right now, JaCoby Jones will be the Tigers Opening Day centefielder. Last season, Jones hit: .257/.327/.407 in 369 at bats in both Double and Triple A with a .733 OPS, 7 home runs, 43 RBI, and 35 walks, but did have 120 strikeouts.
Although Andrew McCutchen should have been seriously pursued by Detroit and was most likely talked about at length earlier this winter with Pittsburgh, Jones is still only 24-years old and has plenty of time to develop. In addition, Detroit possesses five position players all of whom hit at least 20 home runs and recorded 60 RBI's or more last season and have the potential to do it again come 2017. Those five players include the aforementioned group of Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez, and Ian Kinsler as well as Justin Upton.
From a pitching standpoint, Detroit also seems fairly set. The Tigers starting rotation ranked 10th in the league last year with a cumulative ERA of 4.25 over 918.2 IP and features plenty of talent to compliment Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmerman, and the pitcher who often went unnoticed last year only to win the AL Cy Young, Michael Fulmer. On the other side of their coin, their bullpen struggled a bit more coming in 24th in the league last year with a cumulative ERA of 4.22 in 509.1 IP, but does have plenty of talented, young arms with the talented closer, Francisco Rodriguez otherwise known as K-Rod, locking down things at the back end.
So, while some might shake their heads at the lack of roar coming from Detroit's front office this winter, what they are doing makes complete sense. The team is in their prime window to win right now and really doesn't have to make any big moves. After all, Detroit was competitive all of last season until the very end and has the ability to do just that once again in 2017 in a division that features the relentless Cleveland Indians, the fading Kansas City Royals, as well as the rebuilding Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox.
All the Motor City needs now is a little magic, some Miggy bombs along with more Ausmus hoodie tantrums at home plate and it will see the return of postseason games at Tiger Stadium in no time.