Sunday, December 05, 2010

What will the Tigers do at the Winter Meetings?

The long anticipated winter meetings open up on Monday and will go through Thursday.  The Tigers have made a lot of noise at these meetings in recent years.  In 2007, they acquired Miguel Cabrera in a blockbuster deal with the Marlins.  Last year, they received Phil Coke, Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth in exchange for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson in a three-way trade with the Diamondbacks and Yankees. If that wasn't enough, Kurt has a complete list of  moves which Dave Dombrowski has orchestrated at the meetings since taking over as the Tigers general manager in 2002. 

This year, the Tigers have already done a lot of their off-season work re-signing third baseman Brandon Inge and shortstop Jhonny Peralta and adding free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit and catcher/designated hitter Victor Martinez.  They are still looking to sign a corner outfielder and perhaps some pitching help.

The most likely corner outfield candidate is Magglio Ordonez.  In fact, I would be quite surprised if he were not re-signed.  However, they are still linked to former Phillies slugger Jayson Werth along with the Red Sox and a few other teams.  Could they sign both? It's possible, but I don't expect it.  I think they are ready to give Ryan Raburn a shot at the left field job and they also continue to look at Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells.

I'm not confident that they'll be able to make a final decision on the corner outfielder acquisition during the meetings though.  Both are represented by agent Scott Boras and he is never in a hurry.  I don't think Ordonez or Werth will be signed until pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Carl Crawford sign.  The Tigers have already stated they won't be signing Lee and haven't been connected to Crawford for a while.

What else might they do at the meetings?  I think they'll look to acquire a pitcher.  Right-hander Carl Pavano would be an interesting possibility, but I can't see them surrendering another draft pick to get him. They are more likely to sign a project pitcher coming off an injury.  They are rumored to be interested in Brandon McCarthy, who has been pitching well in the Venezuelan Winter League.  Other possibilities might include Jeff Francis and Brandon Webb.

There is always a chance they could make a trade.  The Tampa Bay Rays have enough pitching depth where they might be willing to part with James Shields.  The Tigers don't have a lot of attractive trading chips beyond right-hander Jacob Turner and lefty Andy Oliver though and they would probably want to hold onto them unless they got a bigger prize.

Could they get involved in the Zach Greinke talks?  I think that would involve Turner and Rick Porcello which again might be more than they are willing to give up for two years of Greinke.  Plus, it's not common for teams to make such big deals within their division.

They could also try to add a left-handed reliever beyond recent acquisition John Bale. I don't see them going after a top reliever like Scott Downs which would mean giving up a draft pick.  However, they might sign someone like Joe Beimel, Tim Byrdak or J.C. Romero.  And I know none of those names are very exciting.

Unless things move fast with other teams on the free agent front, I don't see the Tigers making the big move for a corner outfielder just yet.  I believe we'll have to wait for Lee and Crawford to sign first.  Dombrowski has been known to surprise us though, so let the speculating begin.  There is still time for you to make your guess and win a book in the Prediction Thread.

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