Just two days after the end of the World Series, the Tigers were quite busy today with announcements and press conferences. First, they made it known that manager Jim Leyland would be returning for another year and that they would exercise the options on the contracts of reliever Octavio Dotel and shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Then they had press conferences for both Leyland and general manager Dave Dombrowski. Al Beaton of Bless You Boys, did a good job highlighting the Dombrowski presser.
Here, I'm going to give a positional rundown of where the Tigers seem to stand after today's activity.
The top three are still Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister. They will also try to sign Anibal Sanchez. The problem is a lot of teams will be interested in Sanchez and he's going to be really expensive. Remember last year when the Marlins paid Mark Buehrle for $58 million over four years last year? Sanchez's contract will likely be in that neighborhood.
If they are going to sign Sanchez and also make upgrades elsewhere it would probably require owner Mike Illitch to the bump the payroll again. We can't count on that, so keeping Sanchez is questionable. The backup plan would be to have Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly round out the rotation. If they do sign Sanchez, then Porcello could be traded.
Jose Valverde is not coming back, but the Tigers are not going to make signing a closer a priority. They are very high on hard-throwing youngster Bruce Rondon and he could take over as closer at some point next year. Prior to that, they might use a committee. Beyond Rondon, their bullpen could consist of:
Mid-level free agent similar to Dotel
Alex Avila is still the starting catcher. Gerald Laird is going to look elsewhere trying to get a more regular job, but still could come back if he doesn't get any takers. There are also a good number of alternative back-up receivers on the market.
The infield looks pretty well set:
Prince Fielder 1B
Omar Infante 2B
Jhonny Peralta SS
Miguel Cabrera 3B
There is a possibility they could trade Peralta and acquire a more defensive-minded shortstop, but I expect Peralta to be their shortstop. They owe Ramon Santiago $2.1 million for 2013, so expect him to be the back-up infielder. He slowed down significantly last year, but his role should not be as big now that Infante is the regular second baseman.
The only sure thing in the outfield is that Austin Jackson will be their center fielder. Dombrowski would not commit to Dirks as a full-time corner outfielder, although I would expect he'll at least get a platoon role. Brennan Boesch, Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia will also be in the mix for playing time next year. Look for them to acquire a full-time outfielder on a one or two year deal.