The Tigers began their off-season by extending the contract of Manager Jim Leyland for one year and agreeing to the return of his entire coaching staff. Leyland has indicated that responsibilities will change within the coaching staff but no specific announcements as to the changes have been made.
The Tigers picked up the club options on SS Jhonny Peralta and reliever RHP Octavio Dotel.
The Tigers will not pursue re-signing closer Jose Valverde and DH (and ALCS MVP) Delmon Young.
The Tigers have outrighted the contract of Don Kelly to Toledo and Kelly has elected to pursue free agency.
Both RHP Anibal Sanchez and back-up catcher Gerald Laird have elected to pursue free agency.
The Tigers have re-activated Victor Martinez from the 60-day disabled list. Martinez missed the 2012 season due to a left ACL injury during offseason training. Martinez will be the DH in 2013, replacing Delmon Young.
The Tigers have also re-activated from the disabled list 2B Ryan Rayburn and LHP Daniel Schlereth (also known to Tigers fans as the Alaskan Gas-Can). Ryan Rayburn has been replaced at 2B by Omar Infante, who is signed through 2013. Schlereth missed most of the 2012 season with tendonitis in his left shoulder.
With many positions firmly filled going into 2013, it appears as if the questions for the off-season center on a couple of key areas:
1) Will the Tigers be successful in re-signing RH starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez? GM Dave Dombrowski has indicated that this is a priority for him this off-season and Leyland has expressed to Sanchez his desire to see him back. If the Tigers re-sign Sanchez, it will leave just one starting spot open for either RHP Rick Porcello or LHP Drew Smyly. If Sanchez does not return, Porcello and Smyly might be expected to fill out the starting rotation, though it remains to be seen if LHP Casey Crosby, who started a few games for Detroit while Fister was on the DL in early 2012, will figure in the discussion at all.
2) Who closes? While the Tigers might go shopping for a closer to replace Jose Valverde, it is worth noting that the Tigers are planning on spending money pursuing Sanchez and will also be spending a good portion of money saved with the current roster decisions in the form of expected salary adjustments for several key arbitration-eligible players including CF Austin Jackson, RHP Max Scherzer, RHP Doug Fister, C Alex Avila and LHP Phil Coke. RHP Porcello and outfielder Brennan Boesch are also arbitration-eligible. So whether or not the Tigers commit major funds to pursuing a closer this year will depend in part on determinations by owner Mike Ilitch about expanding payroll to accommodate a particular player. Dombrowski has indicated that the answer may lie within the bullpen, which is expected to include Phil Coke, Octavio Dotel, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Brayan Villarreal and RHP Al Alburquerque. Dombrowski has also mentioned RHP Bruce Rondon, a minor-league prospect whom Dombrowski compares to a young Joel Zumaya. Rondon was 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Certainly the possibility that the team may commit to picking a closer from one of Coke, Benoit, Dotel or Rondon, or to closing by committee, should make for an interesting spring training.
3) Who will play the outfield corners? The Tigers are looking for an off-season acquisition that would provide needed offensive and defensive improvement in the outfield for 2012. As for the rest of the corners equation, Andy Dirks along with rookies Quintin Berry and Avisail Garcia are all possible answers. Brennan Boesch, who had a disappointing 2012 but will be offered a contract for 2013, is another possibility. The Tigers are also watching the development of hot-hitting prospect Nick Castellanos, who is transitioning to the outfield from 3B in the Detroit farm system.
4) Will G-Money remain a Tiger? The Tigers have indicated some willingness to pursue backup catcher Gerald Laird, who returned this season for his second stint with the Tigers after spending 2011 with St. Louis. Laird has elected free agency and is expected to test the market in pursuit of more playing time and a higher payday. The Tigers are not in a position to give him either. However, it is possible that the Tigers may be able to reach agreement with Laird at some point in the off-season to return to Detroit in the role of backup catcher. If not, Bryan Holaday is likely to get tapped for this role.
Edited by PawsnSox, 03 November 2012 - 10:35 PM.