The Tigers have discussed signing a variety of bats in an effort to bolster their production from left field, including Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler, reports Jon Heyman (links to Twitter). Detroit has even talked about Chris Davis and Ian Desmond as possible options in left field, Heyman adds. However, there’s also the possibility that the Tigers simply go a more affordable route, adding a platoon bat such as Ryan Raburn to pair with the left-handed-hitting Anthony Gose. (Raburn represents a highly familiar name for Detroit, as he spent parts of seven seasons in a Tigers uniform.) Any additions made by the Tigers will come down to the financial requirements, Heyman notes, as money is a “real question” for the Tigers. Of course, earlier this winter, owner Mike Ilitch flatly told reporters that he “[doesn’t] care about spending money,” so agents may be hoping to pitch directly to Ilitch as opposed to GM Al Avila, who has preached a more measured approach to spending thus far.
Here’s more from the AL Central…
- Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press also weighs in on Detroit’s outfield search (Twitter link). Fenech hears that the Tigers would need an impact outfielder to settle for a short-term deal in order for said player to be a realistic option at this point. Raburn, Fenech reports, is indeed in play for the Tigers at this time, however.
- The Indians have added a pair of recent big leaguers to their player development staff, naming defensive wizard John McDonald their new minor league infield coordinator and lefty Bruce Chen their cultural development coordinator (hat tip: MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, on Twitter). McDonald spent seven seasons playing for the Indians, batting just .229/.268/.305 but playing brilliant defense, as was his calling card over the life of his 16-year career. Chen logged just 6 1/3 innings in an Indians uniform at the end of his career, but the veteran was long praised for his clubhouse demeanor. Chen appeared on the MLBTR Podcast to discuss his retirement as a player last May and was an excellent guest with many fascinating stories for those who are interested.
- The Royals’ decision to re-sign Alex Gordon is the exact type of move that the Indians should have made (or should still make) this offseason, opines Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hoynes writes that the Royals have made a statement by exceeding their comfort levels to not only retain Gordon but bring Joakim Soria back into the fold on a three-year contract. Meanwhile, Cleveland has operated on the fringes of the market, adding Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis on one-year deals. Hoynes feels that while ownership has every right to be a bit hesitant after the Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn contracts turned into busts, it’s difficult to construct a team capable of making a deep playoff run with this approach to the offseason. Hoynes argues that Cleveland should be taking advantage of the AL’s top rotation, the league’s second-best bullpen ERA and a markedly improved defense by aggressively pursuing their greatest need: a run-producing outfielder to slot into the middle of the lineup.
- After years of struggling, the Twins received respectable, albeit unspectacular results from their rotation in 2015 (16th in the Majors in ERA) and now have depth heading into Spring Training, writes MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. Per Bollinger, Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes and Tyler Duffey can probably be penciled in for rotation spots. Competing for the fifth spot will be Tommy Milone, Trevor May, Ricky Nolasco and top prospect Jose Berrios. While Berrios isn’t expected to open the year in the Majors, he should debut at some point this season, Bollinger notes. He also adds that returning to the rotation is May’s preference, but his excellence in transitioning to a bullpen role out of necessity last season has manager Paul Molitor leaning toward keeping May in the bullpen. Nolasco is still owed $25MM through 2017 and will have every opportunity to earn a rotation job this spring, but he could end up as a very expensive long reliever as well, Bollinger adds.