“I am very much supportive of the approach that [Avila] and his team have taken of building a young core of talent and now having the desire to bring in high-impact players to fill that team out”
“Undoubtedly that could happen this winter.”
Folks, it just may have arrived.
At a groundbreaking ceremony for the historic Hamtramck Stadium, Tigers owner Chris Illitch announced that the Detroit Tigers could become fierce competitors this offseason to bring in pieces to solidify the Tigers as championship contenders yet again.
The Tigers have not seen a winning season since 2016 (86-75) a feat which they may achieve this season. However, Illitch’s words elicit more than just hope for the continuous improvement of a rebuild. Fans might be lucky enough to enjoy an aggressive offseason that will allow the Tigers to make significant strides competitively.
Is it premature to position the Tigers in such a position? Not with the current foundation in place.
Torkelson and Greene are knocking at the door, Miguel Cabrera has found a resurgence after several injury-filled seasons, and the young trio of Mize, Skubal, and Manning has already given us enough glimpses into a future rotation of three quality young starters.
Not to mention the emergence of rookie sensations in Akil Baddoo and Eric Haase.
The current state of the Tigers is a young ambitious roster, powered by a multidimensional and resilient offense. Where they lack in a middle-of-the-order presence, they overcome with timely hitting and athleticism.
If the front office is ready to make a move, where should they start?
It has been long documented the Tigers should go after one of the premier shortstops in this free-agent class. Following the pitching-heavy 2021 draft, it appears they will do as such as the middle infield remains a glaring weak spot.
Age – 27
2021 Salary – $11.7 Million
2021 Slash – .271/.367/.474
Correa has been the fan consensus for a while, and for good reason. He would be reuniting with his former manager AJ Hinch and would fill the need for a middle-of-the-order impact bat. His power numbers will most likely decline coming from the hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park, but his other offensive tools and glove will stabilize the lineup.
Age – 28
2021 Salary – $13.75 Million
2021 Slash – .268/.365/.420
Seager would be a tad risky due to his injury history. But when healthy, his glove and his bat are as dependable as any at his position. In the Tigers lineup, Seager would fall closer to Jhonny Peralta or Ian Kinsler. A fantastic addition, but might not necessarily be the immediate impact bat they need.
Age – 29
2021 Salary – $11.65 Million
2021 Slash – .286/.290/.483
If your opponent ran out a lineup of nine Javier Baez’s for a game, you would be completely exhausted by the 5th inning. Baez is chaos personified on a diamond. He can play short or second at an elite level while putting steady pressure on both the pitcher and the defense. Some would look at his affinity to the strikeout as a negative, but after watching Miggy and V-Mart lead the league in double plays for their careers, it might be a refreshing result.
Honorable Mention – SS
Brandon Crawford – The most reliable defensive player of our generation not named Yadier Molina.
Andrelton Simmons – Remember debating him vs Jose Iglesias?
Trevor Story – Good bat, down year.
Jose Iglesias – Come home, my son.
Other Impact Bats
Age – 30
2021 Salary – $19.5 Million
2021 Slash – .266/.358/.506
The former MVP would likely have to find a new position if the Tigers offered. Otherwise, if he wishes to return to remain at third, the Tigers would have to make a decision with Spencer Torkelson. But despite that, Bryant is the exact kind of hitter every lineup needs.
Age – 31
2021 Salary – $22.4 Million
2021 Slash – .289/.393/.501
Freddie Freeman could end up being a perfect fit in Detroit. Schoop has played himself into a larger contract with an immediate contender, and the 2020 MVP could step in as the new centerpiece. However, with Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. giving the Braves an incredible discount, Atlanta might just hand Freeman a blank check.
It will take more than just one or two offensive pieces for the Tigers to emerge as contenders. The bullpen desperately needs to be addressed and the rotation is lacking a bonafide ace.
If Illitch and Avila are both prepared to push the poker chips to the center, a reunion with Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer might not be completely out of the question.
The bottom line, the light at the end of the tunnel is right in our faces.