Dave Dombrowski Rumors

No Progress On Extension For Dave Dombrowski

The Tigers have not made any recent progress on an extension for president and GM Dave Dombrowski, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. Dombrowski’s contract expires after the season. Morosi notes that it’s unclear whether the situation reflects a desire for change on owner Mike Ilitch’s part, or whether he plans to offer Dombrowski a new deal at some point. It is, of course, clearly possible that it’s the latter — Dombrowski and the Tigers did not agree to his last extension until August 2011, just months before his previous deal was set to expire.

If Dombrowski were to leave Detroit, an established executive of his caliber would surely attract interest elsewhere, and Morosi suggests that the Angels GM job or Blue Jays president position might be good fits. The Tigers won the AL Central four straight times from 2011 through 2014, and Dombrowski has proven to be adept in the trade market in particular, landing key current and former players like Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, Carlos GuillenAnibal Sanchez, Yoenis Cespedes and others in deals that have turned out quite well for the Tigers. Dombrowski also led the Tigers to the World Series in 2006 and won a championship as GM of the 1997 Marlins. The Tigers are, however, currently in the midst of an underwhelming 44-41 season.


Tigers Notes: Price, Dombrowski, Cespedes

Left-hander David Price was among the players on hand at the team’s winter caravan kickoff, and he explained to reporters (including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press) that he’s adjusted to his new club.  Though there’s been a good deal of coverage on what some believed to be a rocky midseason transition to the Tigers, Detroit was “not somewhere that I disliked,” the 2012 Cy Young Award winner said. “I solely said that it was different, and it’s not different anymore…. Comfort comes with time, and I’ve had time here and I got to spend time with them last year on the field and away from the field, and it’s a lot more comfortable now.” 

Here’s more from the Motor City…

  • Price referred to the $210MM that former teammate Max Scherzer got from the Nationals as “surreal,” and while Price is intrigued by the possibility of free agency, he’s also “all ears” about a potential extension with the Tigers.  “Some of you does just kind of want to wait it out, but some of you wants to be like, ‘Well, if they’re open to doing something, you can’t close any doors,’ ” Price said.
  • GM Dave Dombrowski didn’t elaborate on any extension talks with Price, only telling reporters (including Fenech) that “we’ll just have to wait and see what takes place” and “we hope he stays a Tiger for a long time.”  Dombrowski also denied that the club explored trading Price: “I will tell you and I can safely tell you we’ve never had any trade discussions about David Price this winter.  People have talked, I cannot tell you that somebody had not inquired about him a time or two, but we were never in discussions to trade him.”
  • Elsewhere on the extension front, James Schmehl of MLive.com tweets that while Yoenis Cespedes did have some extension talks with the Red Sox, the outfielder has yet to engage in negotiations on a long-term deal with his new team. Cespedes will earn $10.5MM this year before hitting the open market next winter.

Dombrowski On Tigers’ Offseason Plans

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski addressed a number of points with the media yesterday, and Jason Beck of MLB.com provides a transcript of his comments. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Dombrowski listed the team’s top three priorities. First among them is deciding on an approach in center, which he said could either mean finding a platoon partner for the right-handed hitting Rajai Davis or going with a new, full-time option. Second: improving the bullpen, with some new arms potentially coming from within. And finally, the team wants to add another left-handed bat in some capacity. The GM rejected the notion that the club’s contention window is closing, saying he has confidence in its veteran core.
  • Explaining that he is more concerned about Alex Avila‘s concussion issues on a human level than in terms of planning, Dombrowski said that he is confident in the team’s situation behind the plate. He expects Avila to be able to man the position next year, but also likes prospect James McCann as a long-term piece.
  • Dombrowski said that he does not know whether Torii Hunter will retire. If he elects to play, the club values his clubhouse presence immensely but has yet to make any decisions as to whether it would pursue him in free agency. Dombrowski also discussed prospect Steven Moya, who could be a long-term replacement for Hunter. “I don’t know if he’s going to be ready or not,” Dombrowski said of Moya. “You can hope and he may be ready, but I’m not really sure. His performance in the Arizona Fall League, then going to winter ball will be important for him.”
  • Soon-to-be free agent starter Max Scherzer appears set to test the market, and Dombrowski did nothing to curb the idea that he could be headed for a new team. “Well, we had thorough conversations before the season, and I don’t know that it’s all dictated by us at this point,” said Dombrowski. “I think we made ourselves pretty well known at the time where we stood. … I think we probably made more of an effort to sign Max earlier in the year. So I don’t think your odds improve [from] what they were earlier. Why would they improve if we have one-on-one ability to speak with you, compared to having 29 other clubs speak with you? Only time will tell.”
  • In terms of a possible replacement in the rotation, Dombrowski said the team has internal options and may not feel the need to add an arm via free agency. “I think we have some young pitchers we feel pretty comfortable with at this point,” said Dombrowski, “… but I feel comfortable staying internal with the four guys we would have at that point. But again, we haven’t made that decision.”
  • The prognosis on shortstop Jose Iglesias is positive, says Dombrowski. Though he will allow manager Brad Ausmus a chance to evaluate him in the spring, the GM says that he expects Iglesias to take the everyday job “if he returns to the form of the past.” On the other hand, Dombrowski said the team needs to be prepared if Iglesias is not at full strength.
  • Detroit’s closer situation will probably not undergo changes over the offseason, said Dombrowski. Joe Nathan will likely have the ninth inning job going into the year, but will need to “perform up to the capabilities required” to keep it. Elsewhere in the relief corps, young power reliever Bruce Rondon, who underwent Tommy John surgery, is expected to be ready for the year, says Dombrowski.


Joel Hanrahan On Signing With Tigers

More than 20 teams were on hand for Joel Hanrahan‘s April showcase and the former closer reportedly dazzled everyone in attendance.  Ostensibly, Hanrahan had a number of opportunities to pick from and earlier today he came to terms on a deal with the Tigers.  The 32-year-old came out strong and hit 93 mph on the gun, which is extremely impressive considering that he’s just under one year removed from Tommy John Surgery.  On today’s conference call I asked Hanrahan if he was surprised by his fast turnaround.

No, not really,” the confident veteran said.  “I put in the hard work while everyone else was playing this summer.  I was going to rehab five times a week at 8:00 in the morning.  That was my season. I’ve still got a bit of work to do here.  Hopefully when they put a hitter in the box and I get some adrenaline going, the velocity will be there. I’ve always been a velocity type guy with a bit of the breaking ball.

While Hanrahan is a very notable addition and one that could help fortify a Tigers bullpen that struggled in 2013, there is another notable name that the club has been linked to heavily over the past few months in Stephen Drew.  When asked if there could be addition room for another major league free agent this season, Dombrowski said such a move wasn’t in the works but didn’t exactly shut the door.

Our owner has always been generous but we’re not in a spot to do that necessarily.  We’ve made some moves with our club through trades, Andrew Romine has done a good job for us at shortstop, that was one area of need we had…” the GM said.  “The area we wanted to address most was our bullpen if we had the opportunity to.

As for Hanrahan, both the pitcher and Dombrowski emphasized that there will be no clear timetable for his Tigers major league debut.  Hanrahan wouldn’t guarantee that he’ll be on the mound for Detroit in the next 30 days and the GM said his minor league warmup will be “sort of a Spring Training,” so it sounds like there’s little, if any, pressure on the reliever to rush himself back.  Hanrahan is extremely eager to getting back to what he does best but won’t take any chances to expedite the process.


AL Notes: Lester, Middlebrooks, Tigers, Royals, Astros

The retirements of Yankee icon Derek Jeter and Commissioner Bud Selig and the Red Sox's quest to repeat as World Series champions are baseball's top storylines this season, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Mike Trout/Miguel Cabrera debate also makes Cafardo's list along with five other topics to monitor in 2014. Stoking the discussion, the dynamic duo both agreed to lengthy and lucrative contract extensions just one day apart this past week: six years, $144.5MM for Trout and eight years, $248MM for Cabrera

In other news and notes from the American League:

  • Within the same article, Cafardo opines Jon Lester better be willing to accept less from the Red Sox than the six-year, $144MM proposal the Tigers made to Max Scherzer adding negotiations with the left-hander will be a true test of how much faith the club has in its top pitching prospects.
  • Lester addressed the media today, including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford (who provides a transcript of the extension-related portion of the presser) and contrasted his situation to Scherzer's. "Every situation is different, every negotiation is different, every person is different, so until it'€™s there in front of you with a pen to sign it, or not presented to you and you have to go the other way, then like I said, we'€™ll deal with that when it comes.
  • Contact lenses could be the key to the season for Red Sox's third baseman Will Middlebrooks, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. An eye test this spring revealed Middlebrooks' vision had deteriorated to 20-25 in his right eye and 20-30 in his left. "For everyday life, you’d never correct it," the 25-year-old said. "But for what I do, you need to be able to see the little things. Once I put them in, I could really see the spin on the ball. I was always just reading trajectory of the ball. I was never seeing the spin."
  • Pitching and offense are reasons why the Red Sox can repeat while history (no team has sucessfully defended its World Series title since 2000) and questions up the middle are reasons why they won't, writes CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam
  • Tigers President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski told MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) he had the financial wherewithal to extend both Cabrera and Scherzer. "We had both negotiations going simultaneously," said Dombrowski. "We were trying to sign both."
  • The Royals have had mixed results with their philsophy of developing pitchers, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. The organization believes you need 10 pitching prospects to deliver one to the Majors and that has worked in developing relievers, but only four prospects have started a game for Kansas City during GM Dayton Moore's seven-year tenure, McCullough notes.
  • The Astros have been active at the Trade Deadline the past two seasons, but that may not be the case this year, writes the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. "No question. This year's different," GM Jeff Luhnow told Drellich. "This year, we have veteran players. If they play well, we're likely to keep them as opposed to move them. There’s always going to be that temptation…we’ll balance all the factors, including the fact that we do want to show significant progress."  

AL Notes: Red Sox, Drew, Orioles, Tigers, Damon

Five years ago today, Alex Rodriguez admitted and apologized for using PEDs during his tenure with the Rangers. Rodriguez blamed the pressure of trying to fulfill the expectations created by his then-record 10-year, $252MM contract. Two days ago, Rodriguez voluntarily dismissed his federal lawsuit against MLB, the Commissioner's Office, and the MLBPA and will serve his 162-game suspension stemming from his role in the Biogenesis affair. Here's the latest from the American League:

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) he doesn't expect anything to happen with Stephen Drew before the start of Spring Training; but, out of respect for the shortstop, has maintained a dialogue with agent Scott Boras.
  • Cherington also told the pair he is working the phones to add another reliever (via a Bowden tweet).
  • The Red Sox's starting rotation, currently flush with experienced hurlers, could take on a much younger and cheaper look in the next 12-18 months, writes the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber. Left-hander Henry Owens headlines the list of Boston's pitching prospects on the verge of reaching the Majors, according to Lauber. 
  • Having lost out on Bronson Arroyo and entering the second week of February without a truly significant free agent acquisition, the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck opines it's fair to wonder how much the Orioles really want to win this year.
  • Tigers President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters recently, including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, the Prince FielderIan Kinsler trade set the tone for the other moves he made this offseason. "If that move wasn’t made, you’re really in a position where you’re kind of back to where you were. It was one move that set off our plans in place." One part of that plan has received much scrutiny: dealing Doug Fister to the Nationals. Dombrowski said Fister was expendable because the Tigers have six solid starters with three of them (Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Drew Smyly) under contract for at least the next four years while also proclaiming he'd love to have Max Scherzer "stay as a Tiger for a long time."   
  • Johnny Damon, whose last MLB appearance was with the Indians in 2012, is open to managing or resuming his playing career, but only on the Major League level, reports the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin.

AL Central Notes: Dombrowski, Gasparini, Despaigne

In what might be the most eclectic collection of names to ever headline a division notes post, here's the latest from the AL Central…

  • Despite the Tigers' late-game problems this season, Dave Dombrowski has no regrets over not acquiring a proven closer last winter, the general manager tells MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. "We didn't feel there was a lock-down, shut-down option in the wintertime that fit in with what we were trying to do, role-wise and financially," Dombrowski said. "Other people may think differently, but there weren't a lot of guys out there, and we felt we had options internally.  Now, it may have taken some time, but we still have a chance to do that." 
  • Joaquin Benoit has recently taken over the closer's role in Detroit and pitched well, which could erase any plans the Tigers had to acquire a stopper at the deadline.  "Where are you going to go out and get a guy with better stuff than Benoit?" Dombrowski said.
  • Marten Gasparini, the 16-year-old Italian prospect who signed a $1.3MM contract with the Royals, spoke to Fangraphs' David Laurila about his transition to North America.
  • The Twins haven't asked agent Jaime Torres about the location of Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne's showcase in Barcelona tomorrow, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter link).  Wolfson notes in a follow-up tweet that this just means the Twins haven't informed Torres, not that they won't attend altogether, and Wolfson says the Twins "have a book" on Despaigne.
  • Byron Buxton holds the top spot on Baseball America's midseason ranking of the top 50 prospects in the sport.  The Twins outfielder "is even better than expected with power, speed, defense and an extremely advanced hitting approach," states BA's staff report.  Buxton was ranked as the No. 10 prospect in Baseball America's preseason rankings but has risen to No. 1 after hitting .344/.424/.548 with nine homers and 33 steals in 366 PA at the low and high-A levels this season.
  • In AL Central news from earlier today, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that Twins right-hander P.J. Walters had cleared outright assignment waivers.

Central Notes: Garza, Tigers, Hart, Royals

Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters, including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, that Matt Garza will most likely miss the first month of the season. Garza, ranked ninth on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings and one of the prime trade targets last summer until he hurt his elbow, strained his left lat two weeks ago when he faced live hitters for the first time since July. In other news involving teams from the NL and AL Central Divisions:


AL Notes: Yankees, Tigers, Indians, Red Sox

Blockbuster trades motivated by one team's desire for financial flexibility (AKA a salary dump) like the Marlins-Blue Jays deal or the Red Sox-Dodger swap are nothing new in baseball history. On this date in 1947, the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox began a two-day trading frenzy involving 13 players (four Browns and nine Red Sox) and the Browns receiving $375K (worth nearly $3.1MM in today's dollars). Here's the latest news, notes, and comments from the present-day American League:

  • The Yankees continue to have conversations with free agent outfielder Scott Hairston, writes the New York Post's Dan Martin. Hairston would bring a right-handed power bat to the outfield mix and could fit into a platoon, as the Yankees have already had preliminary discussions to bring back Raul Ibanez.
  • The Yankees still want to trim payroll to $189MM by 2014 for luxury tax and revenue sharing refund purposes, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if Hal Steinbrenner isn't risking a brand worth billions for the millions the team would earn by doing so.
  • If the Tigers fail to re-sign Anibal Sanchez, the signing of Torii Hunter will still make the offseason a success, team president and GM Dave Dombrowski told George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. "We'll see where other things take us," Dombrowski said. "If we end up with this major move (Hunter) being our major move of the winter, I would be very happy."
  • The Indians have yet to set their 2013 budget, but it is expected to be in the neighborhood of this past season's $65MM, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. As a result of this "fluid" situation, GM Chris Antonetti must take any intriguing proposals to ownership.
  • Also in that article, Hoynes lists the five best and five worst free agent signings by the Tribe.
  • The Red Sox will interview Craig Counsell and Greg Colbrunn for their hitting coach opening, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Counsell, a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, will interview tomorrow while Colbrunn, the hitting instructor for the Yankees' Single-A affiliate in Charleston, is in the process of being scheduled for another time during the week. The Red Sox have already interviewed their minor league hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez, former Diamondbacks hitting coach Rick Schu, and Braves assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher. 

Tigers Notes: Dombrowski, Ilitch, Leyland

The Tigers, American League champions for the second time in seven years, won’t know who they’re playing in the World Series until the NLCS ends tonight. Here are some Tigers-related links in the meantime…

  • Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski acknowledged that he targets hard-throwing pitchers, Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press reports. "But so do a lot of other people, too,” Dombrowski said. “I think everybody likes them." The GM declined to elaborate beyond that. “I don't want to Moneyball you and give away my thought processes, either. Why should I?”
  • Longtime Tigers owner Mike Ilitch told Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News that he wants a World Series title, no matter the costs. "I don't worry about the investment, I want to win," Ilitch said. Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland say they want to win a championship for the 83-year-old owner.
  • Leyland says his team is ready to play in the World Series even after an extended break, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.