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Inbox: Will Tigers make run at Sanchez?

Beat reporter Jason Beck answers questions from fans
February 6, 2019

Emptying out the Tigers mailbag for the final Inbox before Spring Training begins in warm, sunny Lakeland, Fla.:

Emptying out the Tigers mailbag for the final Inbox before Spring Training begins in warm, sunny Lakeland, Fla.:

Jesse Sanchez, my colleague at, had a very good roundup of the Yolbert Sanchez market on Tuesday. The Tigers have scouted Sanchez quite a bit between tournaments and his workouts in the Dominican Republic. But the Orioles have more money left from the international bonus pool than any other team reportedly interested in him. If the O's want him, the Tigers can't match what they can offer. Realistically, the Tigers can't compete for Sanchez unless they trade for another club's international bonus money, something they haven't done in the past.
Still, even being mentioned as having interest in Sanchez is a shift of sorts for the Tigers, who have usually preferred to spread out their international bonus pool money over several signings rather than go for a big signing. The new setup with international bonus pools, where teams can't go way over their limit and take a penalty, has leveled the playing field for Detroit in a sense. Even if the Tigers don't sign Sanchez, it wouldn't surprise me to see them involved on more top Cuban players going forward.
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The Tigers have had interest in Cuban prospects over the years, but haven't gone to the same lengths to sign them as other clubs. They were in on Yoenis Céspedes in 2012 before the Prince Fielder signing took them out of the running, and they scouted Rusney Castillo heavily before the Red Sox signed him to a $72 million deal in 2014 (fortunately for the Tigers). Once those signings fell under the international bonus pool, Detroit became less active.
As for prospects from the Pacific Rim, the Tigers have a few small signings -- Fu-Te Ni out of Korea in 2009, Jack O'Loughlin from Australia a few years ago -- but nothing big. The Tigers traditionally haven't seen Japan's posting-fee system as an efficient way of acquiring talent. Add in the fact that a lot of Japanese players under the posting system ended up signing with teams on either coast, and it's a tough sell.

That might depend on whether Niko Goodrum opens the season as the regular second baseman or as a super-utility player. One key factor to keep in mind is that the Tigers open the season in a dome at Toronto, and Detroit won't have its home opener until a week or so later than last year, so the Tigers' weather concerns could be a bit lighter. (Though that will become clearer as we get closer to the end of camp.)
Since Isaac Paredes seems to have an upside as a hitter, has there been any thought of making him a corner outfielder?
-- Roger, Flushing, Mich.

The Tigers have discussed different spots for Paredes, who came up as a shortstop but played all over the infield last year. At 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds while still a teenager, there's certainly a chance he ends up in a corner outfield spot such as Nicholas Castellanos did. But as long as Paredes has a chance to make it as an infielder, expect the Tigers to pursue that path, at least in the Minor Leagues. It's easier to move an infielder to the outfield than vice versa.
Jason, I enjoy your professional insight into baseball, but I'd also like your personal opinion. Give me a dark horse young Tiger pitcher to make the Major League team this year.
-- Ron F., Taylor, Mich.

Paul Voelker is a little older for a prospect at 26, but keep an eye out for the right-hander this spring and into the season. At 5-foot-10 with a quick delivery and good fastball, he's the kind of dynamic reliever who can attract manager Ron Gardenhire's attention as he tries to assemble a bullpen with few experienced arms. Voelker's 7.4 hits allowed and 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings over 240 1/3 Minor League innings also attract the eye. A suspension in 2017 really slowed his ascension up the organizational ladder, but he has rebounded well.
If the Tigers are trying to save money, why would they spend $5 million-$6 million on free agents when could have signed Troy Tulowitzki, Brian Dozier and others available for a fraction of the cost of what has been spent so far on free agents for 2019?
-- Jim H., Rosebush, Mich.

A couple things to keep in mind on this: First, free agents are free to sign with whichever team they choose. Tulowitzki was going to make the same money wherever he signed, since the Blue Jays ate the final two years of his contract. With all things being equal, he had every reason to go for the chance to win. In Dozier's case, he signed a one-year, $9 million contract with the Nationals.

If the Tigers win 81 games this year, they'll be at least a .500 team. Book it.

That said, if Miguel Cabrera plays at least 150 games this year, and Michael Fulmer gets to 180 innings, and Castellanos stays with the team all season and posts an .870 OPS, and Jeimer Candelario can become a 3+ WAR player, and Christin Stewart can duplicate his 2018 production over a full Major League season, Detroit has the chance to be a much better team than the one that lost 98 games last year and the year before.

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