TigsTown Roundtable: Top Free Agent Priority

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: If you were Dave Dombrowski, which free agent would be your top priority?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
The Tigers have clearly outlined what their need is going into the off-season - they need a run producing, middle-of-the-order bat, someone that will actually drive in runs. That criteria eliminates Carl Crawford, who while an excellent player, isn't much of a run producer. He also still relies heavily on his legs, a skill that will surely erode him as he ages. Instead, the Tigers best bet is free agent outfielder Adam Dunn. The left-handed power hitter fits the bill to a tee from an offensive standpoint, and will just have to be worked around to find the right mix of playing time. But he can arguably be "good enough" in right field, can occasionally sub in for Miguel Cabrera at first when he needs a day off, and can spend the rest of his time DH'ing. It's not a perfect fit from a defensive standpoint, but it fits well enough to make it work, and given that this move is about offense, not defense, there's no better option on the docket.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
There are actually quite a few targets for the Tigers this winter, and that makes it a little difficult to pick THE top priority. The Tigers need bullpen help, another starting pitcher, a shortstop (at least until Peralta is re-signed), a backup catcher, an outfielder, and a designated hitter. That's a lot of holes to fill, but the clearest priority to me has to be at least one big bat. This team cannot go into the 2011 season with only Miguel Cabrera as a serious offensive thread. For all the virtues that may or may not be provided by Austin Jackson, Ryan Raburn and the rest of the cast of characters that project to be the lineup next year, there would still be no reason for opposing teams to pitch to Cabrera. The most obvious candidates for a serious bat are the big three of Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn, and Jayson Werth. Given their respective ages, strengths, and weaknesses, I think the big target here for the Tigers is Crawford. He offers offensive versatility and big time skill, solid left field defense, and some semblance of youth. That trio makes him the top player that fills the Tigers needs, and though he will likely cost a pretty penny, he should be worth it. With his stated desire to avoid huge media markets, and some recent statements that he would have a hard time playing against a former East Division rival, that may put Detroit in a prime position to compete with someone like the Angels for his services.

Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
It's hard to say, but I would probably go with Carl Crawford. The Tigers certainly are in need of offense, and while Victor Martinez and Adam Dunn (two other players the Tigers will certainly at least kick the tires on) provide that, there is the matter of where their future homes lie positionally. Dunn is pretty much a DH with Miguel Cabrera at first base, and he has said that he wants to still play in the field, so unless he's willing to be a full-time designated hitter, I would guess Dunn would go to a team that will allow him to play in the field. With Martinez being a catcher, there is the matter of Alex Avila. Are the Tigers ready for Avila to be the full-time catcher? If not, Martinez would make sense in that the Tigers could continue to gradually phase in Avila with Martinez eventually becoming the DH in time. On Crawford, he would give the Tigers a left-handed bat that the team could hit either at the top of the order, or in the middle of the order, although given the money he's going to get, I would suspect he'll hit in the latter area. Crawford also fills a need in the outfield, as the Tigers don't have a clear outlook with who will flank Austin Jackson on the corners. There will be plenty of competition for Crawford, and if the Tigers feel that they won't be able to land him, I fully expect them to jump on the other top bats, or perhaps do something via trade. A lot of dead money is officially gone, and with an owner who badly wants to win, this is shaping up to be one of the more eventful offseasons in Tigers history.

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