There have been rumors swirling around the Detroit Tigers all off-season. Since coming to terms with Torii Hunter, rumors have had Detroit interested in upgrading their shortstop position and in adding closer Rafael Soriano.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Tigers’ interest in Soriano and free agent shortstop Stephen Drew is overblown and a deal for Indians’ shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, which has also been rumored, isn’t happening either. The Tigers are one of the teams on Cabrera’s no-trade list, Rosenthal says.
Moments after Rosenthal’s report, fellow MLB Network insider Peter Gammons said on air that Soriano ‘s market includes the Tigers. Gammons’ rationale is that the window for the Tigers to win is now and cited agent Scott Boras’ good working relationship with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. Both of those things are true, but the underlining truth of the situation is that Soriano and Boras need the Tigers to be interested or the entire market for the former Yankees closer is basically gone.
The Tigers have maintained that young Bruce Rondon will be given every chance to close games for the big club in 2013 and reports have him hitting 103 mph while throwing in the Winter Leagues. Could they be downplaying their interest in Soriano by hyping Rondon’s potential? It’s possible, of course, but I think Dave Dombrowski genuinely feels that spending on a closer is a fool’d errand this Winter. Whether Ilitch agrees or winds up green-lighting a deal for Soriano is another question.
Jhonny Peralta had a rough year at the plate for the Tigers in 2012, but according to some advanced defensive metrics, was pretty good with the glove. He is severely limited in terms of range, however, and with Miguel Cabrera playing third base, the Tigers could use a guy that covers more ground. Both Drew and Asdrubal Cabrera would fit that bill, but Rosenthal says Detroit was only looking at a one-year deal for Drew, who is seeking a multi-year contract.
This is the first I had heard of Detroit’s interest in a southpaw. While they did choose to part ways with former first-round pick Daniel Schlereth this week, the Tigers have Darren Downs, who pitched to a 3.48 ERA and struck out nearly a batter per inning in a limited role in 2012. They also have a couple of starters in Drew Smyly and Casey Crosby that could see time in the big league bullpen.
Smyly pitched well in that role during the post-season. If the Tigers are able to re-sign Anibal Sanchez, it’s possible Smyly gets bumped from the rotation. What this could indicate is that either the Tigers are no longer confident they’ll be able to retain Sanchez or that fellow starter Rick Porcello would be the odd man out if they do.