(picture by Matt Glass)
During his press conference today to announce the official signing of closer Joe Nathan to a 2 year deal with a club option for a 3rd year, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski had a LOT to say about the team.
Dombrowski indicated that much hyped prospect Nick Castellanos will be at 3rd base to start the season. DD also said that if the season started today, Andy Dirks would start in LF but the WAY it was said didn't give a ringing endorsement to Dirks. Dombrowski did however indicate that LF is not a concern for the team.
DD shed some light on the bullpen as well, saying he does not expect closer Joaquin Benoit to return to the team and indicated that Bruce Rondon would be used in a set-up role.
Dombrowski also said the Tigers are not likely to go after another "big name" free agent...but we've heard THAT song and dance before.
Reports have escalated in the past 24 hours that the Tigers are not only interested in free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, he is one of Dave Dombrowski's biggest targets, says the NY Daily News.
Choo is highly ranked among free agents.
The Tigers want an outfielder who bats left-handed, and there is no one better in that category right now than Choo.
In 2013 with the Cincinnati Reds, Choo's numbers were stellar:
-- On-Base Percentage of .423 on-base -- 2nd in the NL, 4th in the MLB says mlbtraderumors.com.
-- 107 runs scored -- 2nd in the NL
-- 112 walks - 2nd in the NL
-- Batting Average of .285
-- OPS of .885
-- 20 stolen bases
-- Offensive WAR of 6.0 -- 3rd in the NL
Choo may not have been the Tigers first choice. Jacoby Ellsbury may have been a target as well.
But the Freep's Tony Paul nailed it in his assessment of what Dave Dombrowski had to say regarding rumors that the Tigers were actively pursuing Jacoby Ellsbury, who agreed to a deal with the Yankees late Tuesday.
While Dombrowski tells me the obvious -- Tigers "were not close" on Ellsbury -- there clearly was interest. That makes a Choo deal possible.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) December 4, 2013
Dombrowski, of course, won't go into detail about Tigers' interest in Ellsbury, because that would tip off team's pursuit of Choo, Beltran.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) December 4, 2013
One thing is certain -- there are more deals to be done.
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While many people (our own Big Droo included) were hoping for the bearded Brian Wilson, it appears Joe Nathan to Detroit is a done deal.
Nathan and Tigers will have a 2-year agreement. tigers finally get their closer.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 3, 2013
This may have something to do with why the Tigers snagged Nathan instead of Wilson
Dodgers and Brian Wilson appear to be getting close on a contract agreement.— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) December 3, 2013
Dave Dombrowski is ALWAYS working.
It's a trade that has many Tigers fans scratching their head.
And they are not alone.
Even some of the top baseball writers are trying to wrap their head around the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals on Monday in exchange for a utility player and two pitching prospects - one that hasn't played in the majors yet.
ESPN's Jayson Stark gives his take on why the trade went down.
In a word, it's about money.
But in the end, the Tigers are NOT about cutting the total payroll.
#Tigers Dombrowski: "We are not cutting payroll." Has said 10 times team is not done; closer top priority, "then we'll go from there."— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) December 3, 2013
Tigers had $148.7MM Opening Day payroll this year, per Cot’s; a closer could get the Tigers right back to that number, maybe beyond it.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2013
What it IS about is freeing up payroll bucks and putting them elsewhere - putting them with players that are pieces to the Tigers' future.
DD: We thought, for us, it was a move that made sense. It gives us some flexibility to do some other things we wanted to do. #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) December 3, 2013
DD: It's Dec. 2. We're not done for the wintertime, necessarily. #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) December 3, 2013
It's speculated that the move is freeing up some cash to accomplish two things:
1). Sign a closer
2). Sign Max Scherzer
Does that mean Max Scherzer could be traded, too, as rumored early in the offseason?
DD asked if Max will NOT be traded in offseason now: "I'm not making any declarations. I'm also not saying it's a likely scenario." #Tigers— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) December 3, 2013
Tigers ace Justin Verlander weighed in on Twitter late Monday night.
So Doug Fister has been traded away.
But for who?
#Tigers have acquired LHP Robbie Ray, LHP Ian Krol and utility player Steve Lombardozzi from Nationals in exchange for Doug Fister.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) December 3, 2013
Stephen Lombardozzi is a 25-year old right-handed utility player, known for playing 2nd base and left field. Lombardozzi entered the majors in 2011, but saw considerable playing time in 2012 and 2013, playing in 126 and 118 games, respectively.
Ian Krol is 22-year old left handed pitcher who made 32 appearances in relief for the nats in 2013. In 2013, Krol was 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA and a WHIP of 1.317.
Robbie Ray is a 22-year old left handed pitcher who has only played in the minors.
By most appearances, this move appears to be a salary reduction move ... which begs the question -- what sort of bigger deal are the Tigers up to?
Winter meetings being next Monday, and it's largely believed that the Tigers will finalize a deal for a closer either that week or even before.
#Tigers have reached an agreement on a one-year, $1 million deal with Don Kelly. That should take care of Detroit's nontender dealings.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) December 2, 2013
DONNY BASEBALL IS BACK BABY!