Friday, October 28, 2005

Detroit Tiger Free Agents

Rondell White and Fernando Vina were among 62 players who filed for free agency yesterday. Bobby Higginson and Jason Johnson are also eligible for free agency and are expected to file by November 10, the last day by which players can file. The complete list of players who filed yesterday can be found at MLB.COM

Vina has not been able to play for almost two years and will likely retire. I think he is just filing as a formality. I liked Vina as a player earlier in his career but the Tigers got him a couple of years too late. I never thought the Vina signing was a good one because of his age and injury issues prior to joining the Tigers. There is some thought that the Vina signing brought some credibility to the organization after the disasterous 2003 season and opened the door for other signings. However, I've always been skeptical of that notion. Even now free agents don't usually seem to want to come to the Tigers unless they overpay (compared to the competition) by a large amount.

Higginson is almost certainly done as a Tiger but is expected to try to catch on with another organization. I can't see him getting any more than a spring training invitation with any team.
Indications are that Johnson is probably not going to be re-signed either. He was not great but he pitched a lot of innings at close to league average level and those innings will need to be replaced.

There is a possibilty that White will be re-signed by the Tigers. He had a pretty solid year offensively - finishing in the top five among American League left fielders in runs created per game no matter which calculation you use. He is also well liked by his teammates and owner Mike Illitch would like him to return. However, I'm not sure how he fits into the team at this point. I assume that Curtis Granderson and Chris Shelton will be given every opportunity to keep their regular center field and first base jobs. Barring trades, that leaves White, Craig Monroe, Dmitri Young and Carlos Pena battling for two spots (left field and designated hitter). He may be back in some role but I dont think that re-signing him will be at the top of their agenda.

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