Tigers GM/CEO/President Dave Dombrowski met with media members on Tuesday afternoon, giving an update on what the team might look to do this offseason after their embarrassing 3-game sweep in the ALDS to the Baltimore Orioles. Much of what Dombrowski said was expected, and most of the questions Tigers fans want the answers to can’t be answered until free-agency begins after the World Series. Here is a list of thing Dave D did cover during his hour long press conference this afternoon:
— Dombrowski outlined the 3 areas where he’d like to improve upon this winter. He said they need to address the center field position, the bullpen (duh!), and a left handed bat. In a perfect world, they could find a left handed center fielder, but those are few and far between.
–Dombrowski then addressed the Tigers 8 free agents and said he has not personally let them know his plans for them. Free agency begins after the World Series ends, so the futures of Coke, Chamberlain, Martinez, Hunter, and others will be decided then. Torii Hunter has still yet to decide if he will retire or remain with the Tigers in a reduced role.
— DD said he expects Justin Verlander to bounce back in 2015. Dombrowski said the the offseason surgery JV has really hindered his ability to get in shape over the winter and that likely contributed to the problems Verlander had in 2014.
— To quote Dombrowski, “We didn’t have a good postseason. We’ve reached point as an organization where our goal every year is to win a World Series.” Obviously this is a given. After the Tigers won the division, fans still weren’t satisfied. Dave went on to say that it wasn’t the bullpens fault, or Brad Ausmus’ fault that the Orioles swept the Tigers. He said that overall the pitching wasn’t as good this season as it was last season. DD also said that Ausmus & his staff will be back next season and he (Ausmus) is only going to get better.
–DD said that he was not able to comment on if the Tigers will pick up the options of Joakim Soria or Alex Avila. Soria has a $7M team option for next season, and I can’t see how Detroit can let him walk away now. Avila is a different story. He’s battled concussion problems but even after seeing doctors and specialists, they don’t see his injuries as career or life threatening. His $5.4M option will be likely picked up by the team. DD said James McCann could see a regular role as a backup catcher next season.
— Jose Iglesias is expected to return to full health by the time Spring Training comes around. DD said he’d be a regular at SS if he’s healthy.
–DD touched on the current health of slugger 1B Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera was hobbled for most of August with a bone spur in his ankle. The injury didn’t seem to affect his game much down the stretch, but according to Dombrowski, Cabrera might need minor surgery this winter to remove the spur.
–Victor Martinez is somebody Dombrowski would “love to re-sign”. Obviously, Victor is coming off a career year, but is also going to be 36 by the time Spring Training rolls around. Keeping true to what he said earlier, no decisions have been made however.
–Max Scherzer’s contract has been a hot topic all season long in Detroit. After Max turned down a massive deal before the season, most thought this would be his final season wearing the Old English D. Dombrowski said, “It’s apparent his representative wanted him to test free agency.” Scherzer’s rep is super-egomaniac Scott Boras, who is known to get the most dollar possible for his clients. I would be very surprised to see Max back with Detroit next season.
–DD said RP Bruce Rondon should be ready for spring training. Rondon missed all of last season after having Tommy John surgery. He could have made a big impact in the bullpen if he were available in 2014.
— DD was asked about Nick Castellanos and said that he and other Tigers coaches have told Castellanos that his defense at 3rd base needs to improve next season.
— DD was asked about the Doug Fister trade that brought Robbie Ray and Ian Krol to the Tigers. Dombrowski said he has no regrets about the trade and that starting pitching was not the Tigers downfall in 2014. Even though he’s right about the starting pitching, how can you say that he doesn’t regret the trade? Ray and Krol both proved to be nothing better than minor league pitchers this year, and although they’re both young, giving up a talent like Fister for 2 minor league players and a player who isn’t even part of the organization anymore (2B Steve Lombardozzi) was crazy. The trade may not have hurt the Tigers this season, but it definitely didn’t help them.
— DD said that the team has not yet began negotiations on a contract extension for SP David Price. Price was acquired from Tampa at the trade deadline and admitted that the transition wasn’t an easy one at first, but got much better as time went on. The Rays were the team that drafted Price and he’d spent his whole career in Tampa up until now, so a change of scenery is definitely going to be different. Now that he’s comfortable hopefully he can be a Tiger for years to come.
–Yes, DD excpects Joe Nathan to remain the closer for next season. Nathan is owed another $10M by the team for 2015, but Dombrowski said he will have to perform on the field in order to keep his role. The Tigers will likely have a much quicker leash with Nathan next season, as he isn’t signed through 2015. If he does struggle, look for Soria or even Rondon to fill the role.
–Steven Moya is tearing apart the Arizona Fall League right now. Dombrowski said he “loves him” but isn’t sure if he’d be a regular corner outfielder for the team next season. Moya would be a good candidate to start the year in Toledo, and be a quick call-up should in injury arise.
–Dombrowski said if Scherzer leaves, he isn’t sure if they’ll explore a 5th starter in free agency. If he chooses to go with what he has, Buck Farmer, Kyle Lobstein, and Robbie Ray would be candidates for the 5th starters role. Lobstein is probably the best option seeing as he was the more consistent of the 3 last season.
–DD admitted the bench needs work, but “doesn’t think it’s going to be a big expenditure.” I’d expect him to explore the bench more closer to the trade deadline, as teams out of contention would likely be interested in a trade.
–Lastly, DD was asked about the Tigers World Series window closing and he said “I don’t buy that”. With the starting pitching they have and Cabrera, he thinks they have a shot every year.