Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Tigers.
Major League Signings
- Jose Valverde, RP: two years, $14MM. Includes $9MM club option for '12.
- Johnny Damon, LF: one year, $8MM.
- Adam Everett, SS: one year, $1.55MM.
- Brad Thomas, P: one year, $400K (estimated).
- Total spend: $23.95MM.
Notable Minor League Signings
- Justin Verlander, SP: five years, $80MM.
- Ramon Santiago, IF: two years, $2.5MM.
Trades and Claims
- Acquired CF Austin Jackson, P Phil Coke, RP Daniel Schlereth, and SP Max Scherzer; gave up CF Curtis Granderson and SP Edwin Jackson
- Traded C Dusty Ryan to Padres for a player to be named later or cash considerations
- Curtis Granderson, Edwin Jackson, Fernando Rodney, Brandon Lyon, Placido Polanco, Aubrey Huff, Jarrod Washburn, Marcus Thames, Dusty Ryan, Freddy Dolsi, Dane Sardinha, Matt Treanor
The offseason began with stories about the Tigers needing to trim payroll. Saddled with many bad contracts, GM Dave Dombrowski unloaded two good ones in Granderson and Edwin Jackson. After the December blockbuster it was confusing to see the Tigers commit $22MM to Valverde and Damon in win-now moves (Valverde can contribute beyond 2010, of course).
However, the Edwin Jackson-Scherzer component might provide the best of both worlds – decent savings with no downgrade in production or talent. And as Joe Pawlikowski explains in this FanGraphs article, the Tigers will gain a lot of payroll flexibility in 2011 due to Dombrowski's offseason moves as well as expiring extensions.
Still, moving Granderson hurts the Tigers in 2010. If his 2011 salary was a problem, he could've been traded after this season. Even optimistic projections (i.e., no injuries) have the Tigers' 2010 offense as below-average. The rotation looks shaky too – Scherzer and Rick Porcello must pile up innings, while the #4-5 spots are huge question marks.
I understand attempting a run in 2010, since there is star talent in Verlander and Miguel Cabrera and no real way to unload the overpaid veterans. I just think you keep Granderson as part of that 2010 run and find payroll space for a starting pitching addition. I'm not sure if Scherzer-Edwin Jackson could've been facilitated without the Yankees' contribution. But if you make that swap and keep Granderson (as opposed to signing Damon) that's more than $5MM to play with toward a free agent starter. The extra three to five wins gained from keeping Granderson and adding, say, Joel Pineiro, might've pushed the Tigers into contention.
It was a pretty good off-season for the Tigers. It was just strange the way they did things.
They brought in money at the luxury position of closer for a team that doesn’t look to be in contention & paid for an aging outfielder for no real reason. Their pitching is at best underwhelming. Other than that, yeah, pretty good off-season.
I’m not sure that moving Graderson hurts the Tigers in ’10. There is a very good chance that Damon outproduces Granderson (offensively) this year.
In 2009 this is how they compared (Damon then Granderson)
OPS – 854 / 780
wOBA – 376 / 340
wRC+ – 132 / 107
Park Adjusted Runs over Replacement Player – 25.3 / 6.0
They really weren’t in the same league offensively. Sure fortunes can be reversed as they swap ballparks, but even the stats that adjust for ballpark differences show Damon as the vastly superior offensive player in 09.
It all really comes down to whether Granderson in 09 was part of a larger trend of decline that has occurred since 2007 OR that 2009 was an aberration and the real Granderson is closer to his 2008 performance. If you believe the former then the Tigers made the right deal. If you believe the latter then Granderson is due for a very nice year in ’10.
Sure, but it’s not all offense…having Granderson in your OF as opposed to Damon is a plus.
Exactly, Damon projects to be about 2 WAR and Granderson about 3 WAR. In the AL Central one win is more valuable than in most other divisions.
Tim – totally agree that overall Granderson will most likely provide the best value. I was reading your post and in the same paragraph you mentioned a downgrade to Damon and then moved into the team having a subpar offense. I took that to mean that Damon would be providing worse offense compared to Granderson. My bad. Reading comprehension wasn’t all that great on my part.
The A.L. Central is so bad that even the Tigers have a real shot.
If the Twins were still in the dome it would be different, but this division gets defaulted to the team with the fewest injuries.
But Cleveland and Detroit really look setup for the near future.
The Central and the West are not all that dissimilar.
the tigers’ offseason is a pretty good example of how activity ≠ improvement, IMO. good writeup, tim.
How do you make the not equal symbol?
i have an apple, so maybe it’s different for PC, but i hit “option/alt” and “=” at the same time. it comes out “≠”. hope that helps.
I’m feeling pretty neutral about this offseason. The Tigers didn’t really shed payroll 2010 payroll, but they got a lot of young guys who are under team control for awhile….which really looks good in 2011 and beyond. The AL central is such a close division that I can completely understand ALSO trying to stay competitive by adding pieces like Damon and Valverde. If Magglio and Gallaragha come back around, the Tigers could easily take the central, but those are BIG “what ifs” but the Twins/White Sox have some pretty big what ifs also. The Tigers were in a bizarre situation….they were 1-2 pieces away from contention…so they couldn’t really concede 2010 and go into full rebuild like the Indians…but they also needed to get some cheap young guys for 2011. I think they accomplished both.
I’m not so sure the Dbacks would trade Scherzer straight up for Ejax. Trading Granderson to the Yankees allowed the Yaneeks to send Kennedy over to Arizona, so I don’t think its fair to say they “should” have just swapped Scherzer for Edwin. Plus I really liked that deal. It helped us fill multiple needs, got younger, and I think they traded Curt at the right time. If they did wait that 1 year and trade him next year, he might already be past his peak trade value and wouldnt bring back as big of a return. I’m not such a big fan of the Damon signing; I don’t really think it was necessary and seemed to be a bit high given the other amount of interest in him… but he’s here now so I’ll live with it.
I think DD did a nice job setting up the organization this offseason. I like the idea of getting Ajax and Sizemore some experience this year. I also really like how the bullpen could line up with a healthy Zumaya, with Perry, Zum, and Valverde. The core 3 starters of JV, Rick, and Scherzer should only continue to get better. Plus with the few young arms that we have on the way, I think the Tigers are set up very nicely for the next 3-5 years.
It’s almost like the Tigers came into the off season with a plan, but only executed half of it. Maybe they intended on pursuing Cameron, but missed out and didn’t know where to go from there after Granderson was traded. Leading to the eventual Damon signing. Everything else they did was about the norm, but that Granderson trade still doesn’t make too much sense to me.
Tigers need more “if” questions to be answered in their favor than the Twins or White Sox, period. They’re on the outside looking in on the race.
To win the AL Central, each team needs the following:
Twins – An ace to emerge and reliable #5.
White Sox – Beckham/Ramirez to progress and Q to rebound.
Tigers – Ajax/Scherzer to play to fullest potential, #4/5 SP to emerge, Mags/Guillen rebound seasons.
I’d peg it at 40/40/20% for the Twins/Sox/Tigers taking the division. Tigers could certainly do it, but they simply need more things to break their way.
Minnesota had the 11th worst team ERA in the AL. I doubt an ace will emerge, a reliable #5 is more likely. The good thing about their staff is least walks.
Baker or Slowey both have the potential to have All-Star calibre seasons.
Perhaps a strange offseason by the Tigers, but I love seeing the stockpiled arsenal of arms. And for the time being, they are cheap arms. I honestly think that Granderson had fallen out of favor as a player. He looked really shaky down the stretch, struck out a ton, and even misplayed some balls in the outfield. I was happy to see Jackson go, if only because it would be impossible to commit to him AND JV long term.
Johnny Damon was a waste though.
Was it really necessary to give 2 years, 2.5 million to Ramon Santiago?
Especially when Lopez signs with STL for 1 yr/2 mil.
The pitching is at best suspect & the offense banks entirely on rebounds from the heart of their order. They came into the off-season w/ one plan & seemingly switching mid-stream for no apparent reason & it caused the whole process to turn out pretty half-butted.
What everyone seems to forget about the jackson/granderson deal was that the Tigers also received TWO HIGH CALIBER relief prospects in Schelereth and Coke. These guys can easily exceed the value of lyon and rodney and have much more upside at a lower cost.
Meanwhile, Damon will hit for a higher average and get on base more often to score than Granderson. He is also signed for a cheaper deal than what the yankees once offered him (2 years 20-24MM) Granted, he will hit for less power, but they needed a leadoff hitter and now they have it. He can still run and is smarter on the basepaths than Granderson ever was. Defensively, A-Jax and Granderson will be very similar in center. The production of Damon and A-Jax will exceed the production of Granderson and Rayburn/Thomas platoon. (although I liked Rayburn as a player). Scherzer has a much higher ceiling than E. Jackson and they sold very high on him. They now have Scherzer for 5 years, much more time to preserve contention than the two expensive years they had left with E. Jackson. Magglio is coming back to spring training in better shape than ever and with Guillen getting out of LF, that knee should be less likely to act up and should provide another 300 hitter for the Tigers. Sizemore is the real inigma, but expectations are promising.