It may be early, the Tigers aren't dead yet in the World Series, but looking at a 3-0 series deficit, it couldn't hurt to look to the 2013 season.
First off, the Tigers already high payroll could get much higher next season, with nine players eligible for salary arbitration.
Arbitration Eligible Tigers
Includes player's 2012 salary
- Max Scherzer, $3.75 million
- Rick Porcello, $3.1 million
- Ryan Raburn, $2.1 million
- Phil Coke, $1.1 million
- Don Kelly, $900,000
- Alex Avila, $510,000
- Doug Fister, $507,500
- Brennan Boesch, $502,500
- Austin Jackson, $500,000
Of the nine players eligible for arbitration, Raburn does not deserve a pay raise at all, in fact he probably should have to pay Mike Illich for being as bad as he is. No chance he is back with the team next season.
With Detroit likely picking up the $6 million option on Jhonny Peralta, they will have no need for Kelly and will likely cut him.
Boesch more than likely has seen his last game in a Tigers uniform. He did not follow up his good 2011 season with a equally impressive 2012 season, and has been left off all three Tigers postseason rosters. If that isn't a sign that Detroit is ready to part ways with Boesch, then nothing is. Not to mention the glut of outfielders the Tigers have right now.
Scherzer will see yet another big pay raise; last season Scherzer saw his salary grow from $600,000 to $3.75 million. If things hold like they did last season, Scherzer could be bringing in quite a bit more money next year.
Like Scherzer, the other Tigers eligible for arbitration, aside from Raburn, Boesch and Kelly, will all likely see a bump in pay and return to the club next season without any incidences.
With Raburn, Boesch and Kelly being shown the door, Detroit will add to it's payroll without adding a single player. That doesn't bode well for being active with free agents.
Savings: $3.5 million
Free Agent Tigers
- Jose Valverde, $9 million
- Delmon Young, $6.75 million
- Gerald Laird, $1 million
- Anibal Sanchez, $8 million
Valverde will be on the first plane out of Detroit in the off-season and will never come back.
Delmon Young may have been named the ALCS MVP, but that doesn't make up for a horrible regular season and his bat, when hot, in no way comes close to making up for his defense in left field, if you can even call it that. Young's -29 RAA is one of the lowest in the entire league, meaning that when he plays left field, Young gives up 29 more runs than an average player. And even his bat doesn't save him, Young boasted a -9Rbat, runs batted in by position. So not only can he not field, he can't hit. Wave g'bye to Young this off-season.
Laird has struggled in the postseason offensively, and didn't have the best year at the plate during the regular season, but he has served as a solid backup for Alex Avila all year. With Victor Martinez returning next season, the Tigers would have three catchers on the roster, but it also depends on how they plan to use Martinez.
The only problem with using Martinez, Laird and Avila, is that Martinez is owed $13 million next season. While that is quite a hefty sum, if he can produce with RISP like he did in 2011 then he will be worth every penny.
That being said, we would prefer to see Martinez used as the DH on a daily basis next season and see Laird return at $1 million or a little more. Martinez is too valuable to this team to put him behind the plate and risk him getting hurt or wearing out what little is left of his knees. By resigning Laird, all three catchers could work with the pitching staff and if absolutely necessary Martinez could serve as the emergency catcher. Laird works well with Scherzer and Porcello, while Avila tends to work better with Verlander and Fister. Why break up the band now?
While Sanchez has yet to see any bump in run support moving from Miami to Detroit, he appears to like the club and the fans, but it has yet to be seen if that will turn into him resigning with the Tigers. With Detroit cutting ties to Valverde, Boesch and Young, there should be enough money to offer Sanchez a competitive deal to keep him in Motown.
He may not have had the best first few outings for Detroit, but Sanchez has shown that he is as capable a pitcher as any of the other guys on the staff. Sanchez will receive contracts worth absurd money, no doubt, but the Tigers will likely offer him something in the neighborhood of $9-10 million per season.
Savings: $15.75 million
Total Savings: $19.25 million
What about the 'pen?
Phil Coke has shown that he is capable of handling the closers role in the postseason, why not keep him in that role? With Coke serving as the closer, the 7th and 8th inning roles could be left up to Octavio Dotel and Joaquin Benoit.
Moving Coke to the closer, leaves the Tigers in need of a situational lefty, which could be filled by Darin Downs. Continuing to use Al Albuquerque in tight situations would be a solid move and so would be moving Bruce Rondon up from the Toledo Mud Hens and into the Tigers bullpen.
Detroit made a good run in 2011, but was hampered by injuries. In 2012, an American League Championship is nothing to sneeze at, but the Tigers have no one to blame but themselves for under-performing in the World Series. If Detroit wants to stay at the top of the AL for a long time, they need to reward success while promoting young cheap talent from within.