Dombrowski, Chamberlain Discuss Signing

General manager Dave Dombrowski has a new-look bullpen heading into the 2014 season, with Joe Nathan serving as the closer, Ian Krol in place of Drew Smyly (who will move to the rotation in place of the recently traded Doug Fister) and newcomer Joba Chamberlain joining on a one-year, $2.5MM deal.

Despite the fact that Chamberlain's $2.5MM guarantee is less than the $4MM option Detroit declined on Jose Veras and the fact that the team saved money in the Fister and Prince Fielder trades, Dombrowski maintains that his moves haven't been about cutting payroll. When asked about the perception that his team is slashing payroll on today's conference call, he replied:

"The reality is it's not true. We have a very hefty payroll. We'll be one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball. We'll continue to be that, and our payroll, actually, as of this year is higher than it was last year."

Asked then if the decision came down to the fact that the Tigers simply like Chamberlain better than Veras, Dombrowski was frank:

"Yes we do, and no offense to Jose Veras because he's a solid guy and we liked him. We had an opportunity to bring him back. We like Joba. … We had our choice of a lot of guys who are still out there for one-year deals — maybe even a two-year deal in a couple different cases. I'm not talking about closer guys. We like Joba. We've liked him in the past. Our scouts that haved liked him. We realized that sometimes coming off Tommy John, it takes awhile to come back. … The ability is still there. The velocity is still there. … We like what he brings to our bullpen, so the answer to that is yes."

Though it's a new-look bullpen for Detroit, some familiar faces will be returning for Tigers fans, and one of those faces is familiar to Chamberlain as well. I asked Dombrowski and Chamberlain if either talked with left-hander Phil Coke — Chamberlains' former teammate with the Yankees — before making the decision. Dombrowski said that while he didn't ask Coke what Chamberlain is like in the clubhouse, the club did a lot of research and spoke with a lot of people about Chamberlain before making the offer. Asked about his former teammate, Chamberlain replied:

"I didn't have the chance to talk to Phil, but every time that Detroit came to New York or I was in Detroit, we'd always talk to Phil. … Phil is a great man. He's a character, and we had some good times in New York, and I'm looking forward to being back with him and sharing some new memories in Detroit, and definitely getting some more stories from Phil. He's a guy that'll keep you entertained. … I'm looking forward to seeing him, giving him a big hug and being his teammate again."

Though he had other offers, Chamberlain called Detroit "an incredible fit," and a "fantastic organization from top to bottom." He added that he was excited to come to Detroit after talking with new manager Brad Ausmus, whom he watched as a player for a number of years.

"There was a lot of interest," said agent Jim Murray of Excel Sports Management. "There were a lot of opportunities out there for potentially even more dollars. However, the money wasn't a driving factor in this. This is more about opportunity. This is more about Joba feeling comfortable."

Detroit designated Danny Worth for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot — a move that Dombrowski acknowledged was influenced by the addition of Steve Lombardozzi in the Doug Fister trade. Though they've been busy to this point, it could be a low-key offseason the rest of the way for Detroit.

"No, we're pretty well set at this point," Dombrowski said when asked if he'd continue shopping for more pieces. "I think this basically sets us up as we want to go forward. Now, there are a lot of players out there. Who knows what happens as the winter progresses? Who knows what the next phone call brings since we're still a couple months away from Spring Training? But as far as us being aggressive and trying to sign somebody and bring them on board, this would be the last move we're looking to make."


21 Responses to Dombrowski, Chamberlain Discuss Signing Leave a Reply

  1. Tigers72 2 years ago

    I would like one more reliever.

    • TigerDoc 2 years ago

      I would like one more that is not a reclamation project!

      • mmwatkin 2 years ago

        No kidding. For a contender, there are a ridiculous amount of question marks in the lineup and bullpen.

        • bobbleheadguru 2 years ago

          What are the question marks? I really do not see any except who is going to be their 8th inning guy.

          • Matt Corbin 2 years ago

            Questions: How much impact will Kinsler have? Who will play Left Field? Dirks or Davis? Will Ausmus let Davis, Jackson and/or Kinsler use their speed in front of the best hitter in baseball because Leyland sure never would have and probably rightfully so? Can Ausmus manage? Will Martinez be the same type of protection that Fielder was for Cabera? Can Castellanos hit major league pitching and/or play third base? The questions go on and on and on.

          • Mr Pike 2 years ago

            Two questions have been answered. Davis AND Dirks are going to play left field.
            Ausmus said he will let them use their speed in front of Miggy. Steal.? Maybe not a lot. They will score from first on a double, from second on a single and from third on a medium hit fly ball. Last year we had guys who did’t score from second on a double off the wall.
            Who knows anything about Castellanos. except that he will play third if he wins the job. Good question.

          • bobbleheadguru 2 years ago

            1. Kinsler had a fWAR impact of 12.8 last three seasons. Fielder had an fWAR of 11.9 over the same period.

            Expectations of Kinsler value in 2014 should be similar to Fielder in terms of overall value.

            2. LF will be a platoon of Dirks and Davis with an expected output of just under .800OPS, good defense and 40 steals. Just about what the Yankees expect for $20MM out of Ellsbury.

            3. Davis, Jackson and Kinsler cannot all hit in front of Cabrera. For sure, who ever is hitting behind Cabrera will get many steal opportunities. Remember than Jackson was in the mid-to-high twenties in steals early in his career.

            4. Martinez hit behind Cabrera in 2011 (without Fielder) when they made it to the ALCS. No reason to expect anything different.

          • Matt Corbin 2 years ago

            First, when comparing Fielder and Kinsler do not use fWAR which is the one of many WAR statistics which places heavier emphasis on base running. Second, how did you go about an “expected output of just under .800 OPS?” Please explain. 40 steals really? The Tigers as a team had 35 steals last year. And know Davis and Dirks are going to combine for 40. Plus, Jackson is going to steal 25 to 29. As far as Martinez, I would love if he could do what he did in 2011, but is it not in question two years removed from that season just like all these other questions. I am a big Tigers fan just not a homer.

          • bobbleheadguru 2 years ago

            1. You can either believe in the weighting of baserunning as a component of fWAR or not. In the case of Fielder, there were multiple games the Tigers lost in large part because of his poor baserunning including game 6 of the ALCS and a 1-0 game v. KC in which he was thrown out to end the game after a deep line drive hit by Infante. He also overran a double and was thrown out on a slide even though he was initially safe in another game. It does not take more than a few of these gaffes per season to severely diminish a value of a player regardless of hitting ability.

            2. Rajai Davis OPS last three years v. LHP: .818. DIrks v. RHP: .751. Dirks was injured last year, so you can expect a little higher OPS this year. Combined steals between the two (last three years): 125.

            Davis will likely get many chances to come in a pinch runner, so, 40 steals is realistic for him ALONE.

            3. Martinez had a GREAT season after shaking off the injury. His OPS in JUL, AUG, SEP averaged .930 last year, well above his career OPS of .833.

  2. forkball27 2 years ago

    I would like to to have TWO more bullpen arms and maybe DFA a few

  3. bobbleheadguru 2 years ago

    No need for DD to do anything further. He has had his best offseason since the Granderson/Scherzer+Jackson+Coke trade.

    • McGlovin 2 years ago

      Insert “most puzzling” for “best” and I think you’re onto something…..

    • MiggyCabby24 2 years ago

      Are you kidding me? Tigers got worse IMO.

    • Robert Brincheck 2 years ago

      Agreed. It will be very dependent on how well Jaba, Ray, and Krol perform but he did increase the balance between power and speed adding flexibility for the future. Very hard to do.

      • McGlovin 2 years ago

        If Robbie Ray pitches in Detroit in 2014, that’s not good for the Tigers. At all.

      • bobbleheadguru 2 years ago

        Krol is the only one who is expected to do anything in 2014. Joba is a high upside/low risk flyer who can be replaced mid-season. Ray is a replacement for Porcello or Scherzer when they leave… not likely to play in 2014.

  4. tune-in for baseball 2 years ago

    One last low-risk/high-reward move to make,if the scouts and coaching staff agree that his arm is OK, would be to sign Dotel to a non-guaranteed contract with an invite to Spring Training. If he returns to anything near 2012 form, he would really shore up the bullpen.

  5. Drew 2 years ago

    Tigers need to sign CHOO and one more bullpen arm for me to even consider saying that this team is a contender. Right now I think Cleveland probably takes them in the division! KC potentially, too!

    • Mr Pike 2 years ago

      Vegas disagrees with you. Right now they are 8-1 to win the World Series, tied with the Nationals, and only trailing the Dodgers.
      No other American League team has better odds.

    • Robert Brincheck 2 years ago

      Take at look at the splits for Dirks and Davis and then feel free to explain what Choo provides for an extra $8-10M/yr for the next 8-10 yrs. Davis mashes against LH and stole more bases last year than entire Tiger team. Dirks was a gold glove finalist who had a nagging injury most of last season. His offensive stats should improve over 2013 and he doesn’t have to get back to 2013 for the platoon to provide significant value. Ask Boston and LA how that Carl Crawford contract worked out. Choo would be great for a few years but he’s going to sign something at least as large as Elsbury which a team will grow to regret.

  6. Mr Pike 2 years ago

    Lost in all the angst is how much younger this team got. With youth comes upside.
    Castellanos for Fielder, Holaday for Pena, Iglesias for Peralta, Smyly for Fister, Krol for Smyly, Lombardozzi for Santiago and Chamberlain for Veras knocked 42 years off this team.
    They gave back 6 in Davis for Tuiososopo and 3 in Nathan for Benoit.
    Still, that’s a lot of gray hair gone and the guys that are gone are at their peak. The new guys aren’t there yet.

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