Tigers president/CEO Christopher Ilitch said in August that his team was willing to go after “high-impact players” this offseason, and spend as necessary (or if necessary) to obtain such talent. Ilitch reiterated those comments again speaking with The Detroit News’ Chris McCosky and other reporters recently, while GM Al Avila made further remarks hinting at a busy offseason, if not necessarily an all-in push for the 2022 season in particular. “Just rest assured we’re going to try to improve this team for next year and make a big push,” Avila said. “We feel we are very close to being in the playoffs. We’re not too far away.”
Detroit improved to 75-79 with today’s 5-1 victory over the Royals, so the Tigers still have a shot at their first winning season since 2016. The Tigers essentially sunk their season by starting out with only nine wins in their first 33 games, yet they’ve quietly been one of baseball’s better teams every since, going 66-55 since that ugly 33-game start. With the Twins and Indians taking a step backwards in 2021, the Royals still waiting for their latest rebuild to bear fruit, and the White Sox playing well but hardly dominating on their way to the AL Central title, the Tigers may feel the opportunity is ripe to return to contention. It remains to be seen how extensive the Tigers’ shopping spree will be this winter, but after several years of rebuilding, Detroit fans are surely excited to see what headlines their club can generate in the offseason.
More from around the American League…
- The Angels have needs in both the rotation and at shortstop, though a source tells Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times that the team is more willing to spend big on pitching, and the Angels could “perhaps scrimp a bit at shortstop.” This could indicate a shortstop acquisition akin to the Halos’ pickup of Jose Iglesias from the Orioles last winter, with the Angels obviously hoping for much more than Iglesias’ underwhelming performance in Anaheim. Though several star shortstops will be available in free agency, it is hard to argue against pitching as the greater need, considering that Los Angeles has long been hampered by a lack of healthy and productive arms. Manager Joe Maddon believes the Angels need two front-of-the-rotation starters, telling The L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin and other reporters that while he thinks his team has a “championship-capable” core of position players, “it’s almost impossible for it to happen” without an upgraded rotation. Maddon used his former organization as a comparison point, noting that the Cubs wouldn’t have won the 2016 World Series without their signings of Jon Lester and John Lackey.
- 2021 is the last guaranteed year of Christian Vazquez’s contract, as the Red Sox hold a $7MM club option ($250K buyout) on the catcher’s services for next season. Vazquez is certainly eager to see that option exercised, as he told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith that he would like to remain in Boston for the remainder of his career. Vazquez has already spent his entire pro career in the organization, delivering generally quality defense behind the plate and some offensive production, though his bat has been very inconsistent. This hasn’t been one of Vazquez’s better years, with a modest .261/.313/.354 slash line and six homers through 480 plate appearances entering today’s play, and his framing numbers are also down, as Smith notes. Still, it doesn’t seem likely that the Red Sox would just let Vazquez walk, as Boston could pick up the option and still look for catching upgrades, with Vazquez on hand as either a Plan B or as a potential trade chip. It would also seem like Vazquez is a natural extension candidate if the Sox want to keep him in the fold for years to come, though catching prospects Ronaldo Hernandez and Connor Wong are knocking on the door for future playing time.