Detroit Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski met with the media this afternoon and announced a few of his club’s off-season plans.
The club today picked-up options on shortstop Jhonny Peralta and reliever Octavio Dotel for the 2013 season. Peralta’s contract will pay him $6 million next year and Dotel’s will cost the Tigers $3.25 million. Though Peralta struggled offensively during the regular season, he actually seemed to improve his defense as the season wore on and with a sparse free agent market for middle infielders, Peralta’s deal is actually quite a bargain.
Dombrowski went on to announce that the Tigers will not pursue closer Jose Valverde nor DH Delmon Young in free agency. With Victor Martinez expected back at full strength in 2013, Young wouldn’t fit in the Tigers plans unless he were to be used in left field. Dombrowski said the club views Young as a DH type, which is likely what young will hear from other clubs as he looks for his next contract. Hey, I hear the Astros are in the market for a DH.
In Valverde, the Tigers were likely moving on long before the post-season meltdown that cost Papa Grande his ninth-inning job. The Tigers have a host of power arms in their bullpen already, all of them more effective that Valverde at this point in his career. Dombrowski also mentioned young right hander Bruce Rondon as a potential replacement in the closer’s role next year, saying the club had given serious consideration to bringing the fireballer up late in August in order to use him during the playoffs.
Rondon will be in the mix to close games for Detroit next year, but Dombrowski noted that the club may stay with a bullpen-by-committee plan that they used after Valverde fell apart in October.
Catcher erals Laird was also informed, by Dombrowski, that he should pursue other opportunities for increased salary and playing time. While Dombrowski didn’t close the door on Laird’s return, he did say that the club would be satisfied with Bryan Holaday backing up Alex Avila.
The only one of the four Tigers free agents they do have plans to pursue is right hander Anibal Sanchez, who was acquired mid-season from Miami. Sanchez will be one of the bigger off-season prizes on the market, so competition for his services could be fierce. Still, when the Tigers identify their targets, Dombrowski and company usually strike quickly and aggressively. If Sanchez has any inclination to stick around in Motown, it sounds like the Tigers won’t try low-balling him. That’s not their game.
The Tigers could be involved in the trade market, especially if they are able to keep Sanchez. With a rotation already in place and a pair of young left handers in Drew Smyly and Casey Crosby knocking on the door, this could be the end of the road for right hander Rick Porcello, who has yet to develop a quality breaking ball to go with his dominant sinker. The Tigers will be in the market for a corner outfield bat or two and have been previously rumored to be interested in Texas slugger Josh Hamilton.
The general wisdom is to always try to keep in mind that most team cannot spend with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers. But the Tigers have an owner in Mike Ilitch who is in his 80s, is one of the richest men in the United States, and who has a desperate desire for a World Series Championship. All that adds up to a willingness to spend big, even irresponsibly, in order to try to seize that ring.
If the Tigers want to land a player, rest assured they’ll have the ammo to do so.