Without Trades or Additions, 2017 Detroit Tigers Will Tread Water

Aug 8, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers executive vice president and general manager Al Avila before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 8, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers executive vice president and general manager Al Avila before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Detroit Tigers don’t make trades to rebuild or for 2017 and beyond, they will tread water, hover around .500, and miss the playoffs again.

The winners during MLB’s Winter Meetings had direct ties to the Detroit Tigers. None of those moves were made by the Detroit Tigers, however.

The rival Chicago White Sox helped stack the deck for

former Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski, sending the Boston Red Sox their prized possession, Chris Sale. Dombrowski proved again, that to him when it comes to prospects, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Chicago loaded up, landing MLB’s top prospect Yoan Moncada and scores of others. GM Rick Hahn also unloaded Adam Eaton for an impressive haul from the Washington Nationals. Additionally, he has plans to shop Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Jose Abreu, and others.

Quiet Tigers

This was the type of wheeling and dealing most Tigers’ fans thought Al Avila would be doing. Instead a rival did it, meaning the White Sox could be a force within a couple of seasons.

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This was a win-win for fans that didn’t understand why the Tigers won’t give it another go with the core in place. Not only did the White Sox weaken themselves short-term, the Kansas City Royals dealt Wade Davis. With the Minnesota Twins still firmly in rebuild mode, why not let this team take one more shot? Seemingly, only the defending AL Champion, Cleveland Indians, are a threat in the AL Central.

That’s great in theory. Yet, if the Tigers make no moves to add payroll to the team, while not seriously weakening themselves by trading core guys, they will not seriously compete for a playoff spot.

Not a Playoff Team

The 2016 Detroit Tigers won 86 games. A poor showing against the sad-sack Atlanta Braves the final weekend cost them a shot at a wild-card spot. Last year’s team did have some excitement, and had postseason aspirations until the season’s final day.

Don’t expect a repeat performance in 2017. The team’s spark plug, Cameron Maybin is gone. That means the Tigers’ have a gaping hole in centerfield, a hole they seem determined to fill in-house through Tyler Collins, JaCoby Jones, or vomiticiously, Anthony Gose. Collins is not an everyday player, Jones is still raw, and Gose has harsh feelings for his former AAA manager, and would-be MLB hitting coach in Lloyd McClendon.

In fairness, after Dexter Fowler was plucked off the market, the list of centerfield free agents is remarkably thin, which makes the deal of Maybin even more baffling. The Tigers could turn to old friends Austin Jackson or Rajai Davis, but will that make this team much better than Collins or Jones?

The Tigers could add payroll by making a splash with Jose Bautista. Since he’s a rightfielder, it would require someone to move positions, whether its him, J.D. Martinez, or Justin Upton. Thus, that move doesn’t make much sense.

Aging Core 

Aside from the CF problem, some of the core Tigers are aging. We saw Victor Martinez‘s age and injuries catch up with him last year. Miguel Cabrera will be 34, Ian Kinsler is due for a step-back in 2017, and so on.

Kudos to Avila for not giving up Justin Verlander, J.D. Mart, Kinsler, and others for nothing. It’s probably better to roll the dice for an unlikely postseason berth in 2017 with these players than to get lesser prospects in return. However, giving this team no significant upgrades means they’ll likely hover around .500 much of 2017.

If they’re 3 or 4 games back of the wild-card at the trading deadline, it would be hard to rationalize the need for trading these guys, and it doesn’t seem likely they’ll make additions at that time either. But they could get quite a return, just like in 2015. Like last season, the current team will likely finish outside looking in.

Past Mistakes

The Tigers botched a pseudo-rebuild after 2013 when they traded Prince Fielder, Doug Fister, and let others, such as Jhonny Peralta, walk. Then they added David Price at the following trading deadline, before adding Yoenis Cespedes, Jordan Zimmermann, and Upton over the next couple seasons.

While the 2016 team was decent, their depth seemed weakened by the franchise hedging their bets. They might have had better teams in 2015-16 had some of those 2013-14 moves not been made. Could this have pushed them into the playoffs? We’ll never know.

Next: Detroit Tigers All-Time 25-man Roster

To compete, the Detroit Tigers must be willing to spend more. If not, they need to do it right and rebuild now.