After last night’s embarrassing 10-2 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Detroit Tigers found themselves in a position they have not seen in quite some time. They currently sit in fourth place in the AL Central with a 48-52 record, 13.5 games back of Kansas City for first place.
No one saw this coming at the beginning of the season, especially after they raced out to an 11-2 record. Despite losing Max Scherzer to free agency last off season, the Tigers were still expected to field a strong team that would make the playoffs and perhaps represent the American League in a wide open AL field.
Fast forward four months and the Tigers are now scratching their heads on what to do before Friday’s trade deadline. The answer to that question is simple. You sell, and start planning who to pursue in free agency at the end of the season.
It is hard to believe that the Tigers front office will remain firm on their stance that they would like to add players at the deadline instead of subtract. The team has now lost three straight games, and seven of their last ten. They are also 4.5 games out of the second wild card spot.
This years free agency class offers up a lot of players that the team could pursue to get back into contention sooner rather than later.
Starting pitching will be the main focus, especially if the Tigers decide to go the route of trading David Price. There are a couple of options the Tigers could look at to fill his spot next season and years to come. Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Jordan Zimmerman are all options that will come cheaper than Price and they can all be effective for the Tigers.
In the bullpen, the Tigers will need to look at re-signing Joakim Soria to close games for them. If they decide to not go that route, Tyler Clippard could be a cheaper, effective solution. A couple of other upgrades could come in the form of LHP Tony Sipp (2.75 ERA), LHP Antonio Bastardo (3.90 ERA), and RHP Tommy Hunter (3.80 ERA).
If the Tigers decide to trade Yoenis Cespedes before Friday, they will also be looking to fill the hole left in left field. They could either do that by promoting from within the organization (Tyler Collins or Steven Moya) or they could look towards the free agent market. Gerardo Parra could step in and become the Tigers every day left fielder for cheaper than re-signing Cespedes. Parra is hitting .324 this season with 9 HR and 31 RBI. The Tigers could also look at making a big splash here and sign Justin Upton. Upton does not have the defensive prowess that Cespedes has, but could replace the bat that the Tigers would miss in Cespedes.
The 2015 Tigers season has pretty much come to a close from a contention standpoint, and management will soon follow suit in that belief. If the Tigers are able to get good returns for their impending free agents, and make the proper moves in the off season, there is no reason to believe that they will not be in contention again as soon as 2016. The core of this team is still strong, the other pieces just need some tweaking.