Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

Inbox: What will Tigers accomplish at Meetings?

Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fan questions
December 5, 2018

DETROIT -- Answering your questions about the Tigers' Hot Stove season before club officials head to Las Vegas for next week's Winter Meetings.

DETROIT -- Answering your questions about the Tigers' Hot Stove season before club officials head to Las Vegas for next week's Winter Meetings.

If Matt Moore can turn back the clock to his younger form -- not necessarily his All-Star season of 2013, but even just his '16 work -- he can help the Tigers, both in innings and in effectiveness. Whether he will do that is anyone's guess, including the Tigers, who decided a one-year, $2.5 million contract was worth finding out.
Submit an Inbox question
Moore's velocity hasn't changed drastically since he returned from Tommy John surgery four years ago, even though his numbers certainly have. His Fielding Independent Pitching numbers have been better than his traditional pitching stats in that time, but that's partly because the contact hitters have made off of him has been pretty solid, with exit velocities and hard-hit rates climbing each season. The slugging percentages off his fastball and changeup have risen a lot.

The Tigers will certainly explore the trade market, but there isn't a ton for them to offer clubs this offseason aside from Nicholas Castellanos and Shane Greene. They'll definitely be active in the Rule 5 Draft, though.

There hasn't been much of a market so far. We'll see if it picks up at all once some of the top free-agent hitters sign.

The Tigers would like to add more athleticism on the positional side, much like they did with Victor Reyes in last year's Rule 5 Draft. The early sense, though, is that they might go after pitching. MLB Pipeline put together a list of intriguing Rule 5 prospects after 40-man rosters were set, and it includes some interesting bullpen candidates. Riley Ferrell has generated some buzz based off his strong arm and strikeout rate in the Astros' system, though command is an issue.

One intriguing player is A's shortstop Richie Martin, a 2015 first-round Draft pick who went two spots before the Tigers selected Beau Burrows. Detroit has been looking for a veteran shortstop to stabilize its infield until Willi Castro and Sergio Alcantara are ready to compete in the big leagues, but with neither of them a sure thing, Detroit could arguably use some depth on that end. Martin finally began to hit last year, and while a jump to the big leagues would be a huge challenge, the Tigers are going young most everywhere else anyway. Detroit took a shot on a similar late bloomer in Niko Goodrum last year, albeit as a Minor League free agent, and reaped benefits.

The strategy for 2019 is pretty similar to '18, with the exception of working in more young talent. Christin Stewart should stick with the big club. Spencer Turnbull has a chance to be part of the rotation or shift to the bullpen if that doesn't work out. Dawel Lugo should be ready to take over at second base at some point, if not at season's start. Daz Cameron could be ready to make the jump later in the season.
Others asked this week about the long-term plan in the wake of the Mariners' rebuild on the fly so far this offseason. I think the front office has tried to be clear from the start that this is a multi-year rebuild. The Tigers didn't go into this with close to Major League-ready prospects aside from Joe Jimenez. And aside from Jeimer Candelario, the prospects they acquired in trades have generally been in A-ball. Besides Robinson Cano and James Paxton, the Mariners have been moving players still in their 20s with club control left. The youngest players the Tigers dealt in their rebuild were J.D. Martinez just shy of his 30th birthday, and Justin Upton just after his. That's the difference between going for it again in 2016 and tearing down the rest of the roster to go with the David Price and Yoenis Cespedes trades in '15.

If the Tigers were a player or two away, maybe. But you just listed six moves, and that's assuming Jose Cabrera, Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Jordan Zimmermann are healthy and effective -- and that the Tigers get production out of all those signings. That's also assuming Cleveland breaks up core pieces of the club, which remains to be seen.

That was the fear with the Tigers' last rebuild, until Jim Leyland came in. That's also a big reason Detroit hired Ron Gardenhire as manager rather than a young first-timer.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.