It’s seems the winter meetings are now officially behind us and as always a number of moves haven been made which means that a number of free agents have found new teams and a number of trades have been done.
Now, there is obviously a lot of off-season ahead before opening day takes place for the 2014 season but no one can deny that the Detroit Tigers have made a number moves so far this off-season. Now most of them have been good solid moves but there are few moves that fans question. Nonetheless, the Tigers have made plenty of moves from block-buster trades to free agent signings to ensure that they get back to the playoffs and hopefully back to the World Series.
The Tigers started the off-season with a bang back in November when they traded Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Ian Kinsler, a move I was very happy with. Mainly because Fielder didn’t fit what the Tigers wanted and needed which was a consistent big hitter that they count on specifically in the playoffs where it matters most. Fielder couldn’t offer that so they traded him. Plus I love the fact that they got Kinsler in the process. Now for those who don’t know Kinsler is one of the best offensive second basemen in baseball. He was a 30-30 player just two years ago. He brings some speed to the lineup and he also brings the possibility of being the Tigers lead-off hitter which will allow Austin Jackson to slide down in the lineup, where he seems to perform better.
In early December the Tigers made another trade as the they traded Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for Robbie Ray, Ian Krol and Steve Lombardozzi. While I must admit I was sad to see Fister go seeing that he has been a Tiger for years, I understood why the Tigers made this move.
When it comes to Steve Lombardozzi, he can play infield for the Tigers. He can also be a nice switch-hitter for the Tigers especially when going up against right-handed pitchers. Then you have Ian Krol who will be used out of the bullpen. Krol isn’t the most amazing pitcher but he has five specific pitches in his arsenal including the curve-ball, fast-ball and mid-change up as well. Then when it comes Robbie Ray, you’re talking about someone with a nice arm and a solid fast-ball. Some worry about his ability to keep the ball in the strike zone but my hope is that he can learn from Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer who are both great power arm pitchers.
Soon after that the Tigers signed Joe Nathan to a two-year deal. While many fans questioned his age, let me remind you that while Nathan may be 39 years-old, he is still one of the few players that continues to play and get better with age. He gives the Tigers a legitimate closer and true go-to-guy with this signing. Plus he makes the bullpen even more stronger.
Then earlier this week the Tigers made two more moves. First signing Rajai Davis to a two-year, $10 million deal in free agency. After that, the Tigers signed RP Joba Chamberlain to a one-year, $2.5 million deal in free agency.
Now in when it comes to the Tigers latest signings, I have to say I especially like the Davis signing. I feel Davis makes the Tigers dynamic on the bases with his great speed and skill set. He has 216 steals since the start of the 2009 season, which is good for second-most in baseball to Michael Bourn who has 239. If that doesn’t impress you, let me remind you that Davis stole 45 bases in 51 attempts after only playing 108 games last season, while the Tigers only stole 35 bases in 55 attempts as a team. So Davis should definitely make an impact on the bases for the Tigers. Then after that you have to remember that Davis has the potential to be solid hitter as well and you add that along with his ability to be great partner for Andy Dirks in left field and you have yourself in a good overall signing with Davis.
When it comes to the Chamberlain signing, I have to say I have mixed feelings about this signing. In the past, he has shown the ability to dominant in late-innings but that was in the past. As of right now he has a career WHIP of 1.4. Plus you have to question the fact that the Tigers went with Chamberlain instead of just re-signing Jose Veras who would have probably been there better option. Now, I’m not a mind reader but I assume that the Tigers see Chamberlain as low risk type of signing. Meaning that if he doesn’t do well it shouldn’t hurt them to much, but if he performs well and consistently it works out well for the Tigers.
As I mentioned earlier, there plenty of off-season left before opening day takes place for the 2014 season and the Tigers are still one of teams to watch as the season goes on. Mainly because the Tigers still have area(s) to watch like the possible extensions of Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera. Then there is possibility of more free agent signings. Overall, I give the Tigers a solid grade but some fans don’t seem to agree. I guess for me it goes back to having faith and trust in Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski. While I agree that some of the moves have been questionable, I still feel the Tigers have done a good job so far this season with their off-season activity.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com