Tigers, Ordonez Getting Closer?

The Detroit Tigers certainly haven't had the offseason many had hoped for at the conclusion of the 2004 season; but it's not over yet. Like last year when the Tigers made a late move with Scott Boras client Ivan Rodriguez, the Tigers could be moving in on a similar deal with another Boras client; Magglio Ordonez.

With Carlos Delgado agreeing to a 4-year deal with the Florida Marlins, Magglio Ordonez has become the last of the marquee free agents left available.

Of course, there's a catch. Much like Rodriguez last offseason, there are serious questions about the health of Ordonez, and whether or not he'll be able to continue to hold up and produce how he has in the past. But that hasn't deterred the Tigers, who are still in the market for a big bat to put in the middle of the lineup.

After meeting with the Tigers' brass on Monday (including owner Mike Ilitch and President/CEO Dave Dombrowski), Ordonez was so impressed that he wanted to initiate further talks with the team.

"Mike Ilitch indicated he was interested in making a move that would dramatically affect the franchise," Ordonez's agent Scott Boras said. "Magglio called me today and instructed me to make an offer to the Tigers, which we did."

The counter-offer could signify Ordonez's interest in the Tigers, or could possibly be just a ploy to drive up his asking price as questions remain concerning the health of his knee, after he missed a good portion of the 2004 season due to knee surgery.

Whichever the case, the Tigers have yet to give up on an offseason in which they didn't come up big. But with time still remaining, and an outfielder that averaged 30 Home Runs and over 100 RBI over 5 straight seasons still on the market, the Tigers still have a shot.

Assuming questions about his knee are answered, Ordonez could become a long term solution for the Tigers, who have struggled to find a productive outfielder – despite giving a big money contract to Bobby Higginson (who promptly went flat the year after signing the deal), and trading for Juan Gonzalez, an expected Hall-of-Famer at the time.

If Ordonez is indeed sincere, it could turn an offseason that appeared headed for disaster into one where the Tigers could once again begin to discuss challenging for the AL Central crown.

It will apparently all come down to a 31-year old former foe with a questionable knee.

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