Early indications are that the Tigers are more focused on second-tier free agents than the top of the market, sources tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). That would seem to preclude, at least for the time being, notions of a reunion with either David Price or Yoenis Cespedes, even though both could conceivably fit onto the roster. The question for the Tigers, as I noted in my recent Offseason Outlook on Detroit, is whether a top free agent would fit into the club’s long-term payroll capacity. Justin Verlander’s resurgence has lessened the need to seek a top-flight arm, meaning names like Ian Kennedy, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Samardzija, Wei-Yin Chen and Yovani Gallardo could be more plausible targets for first-year GM Al Avila, who has previously stated a preference to add a pair of starters this winter.
Here’s more from the AL Central as the offseason gets underway…
- Ben Zobrist tells MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that Alex Gordon should be the Royals’ top priority this offseason due to Gordon’s status as face of the franchise, but adds that he would love to return to Kansas City (Twitter link). Kansas City picked up Zobrist from the A’s in exchange for lefty Sean Manaea and right-hander Aaron Brooks prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Zobrist, like Gordon, figures to be one of the more in-demand free agents this winter due to his versatility and track record of above-average offense. Gordon declined his player option with the Royals earlier tonight.
- The Twins have interest in a reunion with fleet-footed center fielder Shane Robinson, a source tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Robinson recently elected free agency after being outrighted by the Twins, who presumably would like to bring him back on a minor league pact. The 31-year-old somewhat improbably cracked Minnesota’s Opening Day roster in 2015 and spent the entire season serving as a fourth outfielder, late-inning defensive replacement and pinch-runner. The former Cardinal hit .250/.299/.322 in 197 plate appearances and graded out quite well by measure of Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating (+3 and +2.7, respectively, in just 458 innings).
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins have scouted Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park extensively, with one club official calling him a “good run producer.” It’s somewhat difficult to see where Park would fit into Minnesota’s crowded corner scene, where Trevor Plouffe, Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano are all likely to rotate throughout third base, first base and DH (though Mauer wouldn’t see time at third). Park was posted earlier this week after hitting 105 homers over the past two seasons in KBO. Bids on the 29-year-old are due Friday.