TigsTown Roundtable: Free Agent Pursuit

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: How busy will the Tigers be in the free agent market this offseason? And welcome this week's guest writer; Eddie Bajek from Detroit Tigers Thoughts!

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Those looking for the Tigers to go and upgrade the '08 version of the team by signing some big name players are likely going to be very disappointed. While there is no sell-off in the works, the likelihood of the Tigers expanding payroll at this point is unlikely. That being said, the Tigers are likely going to need to rely on the market to fill at least a couple of holes, especially at shortstop and closer, given that the Tigers appear to have no internal candidates ready to hold those spots. So, unless the Tigers make a big splash such as trading some like Magglio Ordonez, the Tigers are still going to need to look to free agency to improve the club in 2009. But those hoping for a K-Rod signing are going to have to rein in their expectations.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
I think the Tigers may be busy in the free agent market, but not necessarily big players. If that sounds confusing or contradictory, I'm not surprised. I really don't expect the Tigers to be bidders on some of the markets bigger names or higher prices. I do however, expect them to be busy chasing after a group of second tier players that can help fill in the roster and provide some sense of stability in 2009. It's simply not practical to envision the Tigers in the sweepstakes bidding for guys like Sheets, Sabathia, Rodriguez, Tex and the like. I believe they are far more likely to bid on a glut of relievers, maybe a couple of bench/role players to fill out the roster, with a possible peak of activity in chasing someone like Derek Lowe for the rotation. The Tigers are still firm believers in the young talent on their roster, and I believe they will expect them to come back strong in 2009, with a compliment of players that can make them contenders in the Central.

Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
I don't see the Tigers being very active in the free agent market. The Tigers already have a bloated payroll with several contracts that would net them very little in trades, so they don't have much in the way of financial flexibility to go out and make a big splash. What players they do sign will be guys the team thinks can step in as a stopgap measure until some of the younger prospects are ready to play full time (catcher and shortstop in particular). I could see them making a run at some of the relievers to try and bolster the bullpen, but I'd doubt they would go overboard and make a run at someone like Francisco Rodriguez. The Tigers will certainly make tweaks to the roster, but I don't see them making a major overhaul this offseason unless there is a dramatic shift to cut as much payroll as possible.

Eddie Bajek, Blogger/Publisher, Detroit Tigers Thoughts
With the Tigers "pushing their situation" this past year and coming up well short of the playoffs, therefore likely falling short of revenue estimates, I think it's doubtful they will be looking to add much payroll this year. While targets like CC Sabathia seem desirable, they probably won't be feasible given the team's already inflated payroll. They need catching, shortstop, and pitching help, and there are some okay options on the free agent market, but nobody worth giving a multi-year contract. I think the Tigers will be more creative than simply picking from the guys who declare free agency this week. I see them using other avenues of free agency, such as non-tenders, 6-year minor league free agents, and possibly Japan, to find some diamonds in the rough. In fact, we've already seen this with the plethora of Independent League signings.

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