The Tigers are looking to add an outfielder — preferably, a right-handed-hitting outfielder that could play every day — general manager Al Avila told Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (links to Twitter).
The obvious names that jump to mind when considering that description are Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes, each of whom ranks near the top of MLBTR’s list of top 50 free agents this winter. However, each player figures to command an annual salary north of $20MM, and with the Tigers also intent on adding multiple starting pitchers as well as multiple bullpen arms, one has to wonder if adding a player of that magnitude will leave Avila and his staff with the necessary flexibility to address the pitching staff. A more affordable option — and one with which the Tigers are plenty familiar — would be Austin Jackson. The switch-hitting Dexter Fowler would figure to fit somewhere between those two tiers.
Trade scenarios will also arise for the Tigers, and Fenech quoted Avila in an earlier column today, stating, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to fill everything through free agency.” While none of this grouping has been specifically tied to Detroit, we’ve already seen names like Marcell Ozuna, Cameron Maybin and Jorge Soler bandied about in general trade speculation throughout the league.
Avila also said that the Tigers will consider right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma as the club searches for pitching, Fenech notes. That’s not exactly a surprising revelation, as Iwakuma is a talented arm that could provide a boost to nearly any big league rotation and doesn’t figure to be in line for an exorbitant contract. Three years is probably the ceiling on Iwakuma, given his age (35) and recent injury history, although he’s also said to be interested in a return to the Mariners, who would love to re-sign him. The Tigers are presumably at least somewhat interested in any free-agent starter that could step into the middle of their 2016 rotation alongside Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, as there’s little certainty beyond that duo.