Somebody rekindle the Hot Stove. It’s time for baseball and the Tigers to get back to work.
The recent agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association on a new collective bargaining agreement ends the work stoppage that had halted business and frozen rosters since December. With Spring Training just around the corner, teams are looking at a condensed window to finish their shopping lists, even more condensed than the month teams had to do business in November before the CBA expired on Dec. 1.
The Tigers were busy leading up to that deadline, having finalized their agreement with shortstop Javier Báez in the hours leading up to the roster freeze. Detroit is expected to be busy again as it attempts to further the transition from young team on the rise to potential contender. How quickly general manager Al Avila and his front-office team can regain momentum will be interesting to follow.
Here’s a look at where the Tigers stand as their offseason gets back going and the season quickly approaches:
What deals have already gotten done?
The Tigers signed left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million contract on Nov. 16. A few weeks later, Detroit signed the shortstop Báez to a six-year, $140 million deal. On the trade front, the Tigers acquired catcher Tucker Barnhart from the Reds for third-base prospect Nick Quintana one day after the World Series ended.
What are the Tigers’ biggest remaining needs?
The Tigers would like to add one more experienced starter, though probably not on the level of Rodriguez. They’re also looking for relief help, including somebody who can get left-handed hitters out. Detroit could also use one more impact bat, likely in the outfield.
Might there be a reunion with any of their remaining free agents?
The door hasn’t closed on Matthew Boyd returning, but it’s far from a first option for either side. Boyd is upbeat about an early-season return from surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his left forearm. The Tigers were more cautious about his situation early in the offseason and were looking for more of a full-season rotation add, which led to Boyd being non-tendered on Nov. 30. He quickly drew interest from other clubs before offseason moves halted.
Are there any players they are looking to trade?
The Tigers could try to trade from their young starting pitching, such as Matt Manning or Joey Wentz, to add help elsewhere, but Detroit’s annual emphasis on pitching depth makes that highly unlikely unless the club receives a very generous offer. Detroit could also look to deal from its group of young outfielders, especially if the team adds a veteran free agent to the group.
What outstanding arbitration cases are on the docket?
The Tigers were too busy with free agents to address arbitration early in the offseason. That leaves all of their arbitration cases outstanding, a list that includes Jeimer Candelario, Harold Castro, José Cisnero, Michael Fulmer, Dustin Garneau, Joe Jiménez, Victor Reyes and Spencer Turnbull.
How many open spots are there on the 40-man roster?
The Tigers have two spots open, which gives them potentially useful flexibility for what could be a free-agent scramble ahead of Spring Training.
Which prospects will be in Spring Training with a chance to make the team?
The Tigers haven’t yet announced which players not on their 40-man roster will receive invites to Major League Spring Training. Outfielder Riley Greene and first baseman Spencer Torkelson are obvious choices. If they don’t make Detroit’s Opening Day roster, they’re expected to make the trip up Interstate Highway 75 from Triple-A Toledo to Detroit soon after the season begins.
Others, such as shortstop Ryan Kreidler, infielder Kody Clemens and pitcher Joey Wentz are more likely to be in-season callups, though they could help their timetable with a strong impression in camp. Still, manager A.J. Hinch showed his willingness to give youngsters a fair chance last Spring Training, when he put rookies Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize in the rotation at season’s start.