Detroit Tigers: Christopher Ilitch’s lack of spending is not helping the rebuild

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers‘ offseason signings have been lackluster, to say the least. Is Christopher Ilitch to blame for this? It is no secret that Mike Ilitch’s passing has changed the way the Tigers organization functions at the top, with his son Christopher at the helm.

Ilitch’s efforts after taking over for his father have been that of a penny-pincher. Frankly, Mike would be ashamed of the way Christopher has been running the Detroit Tigers organization since taking over.

However, this offseason has been clear of an example as ever. I do not mind cutting Ilitch a break in a pandemic, saying that he wants to keep spending down, but not signing players to the Major League roster besides adding pitcher José Ureña and catcher Wilson Ramos is just disappointing.

So far, this offseason’s signing has been ” The Detroit Tigers have agreed to a minor-league contract with (Insert Player Name) that includes a spring training invite…” which is just disappointing. Take a deeper look into Ilitch’s frugal efforts to spend as of late and how it impacts the Tigers.

Christopher Ilitch acting as a penny-pincher with frugal spending habits does not help the Detroit Tigers rebuild whatsoever.

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Currently, the Tigers 40-man roster stands at 40, so arguing this is the reason is “valid,” but room should be made for big-league signings.

Whether it is designating players for assignment, cutting bait, or making a trade, something needs to be done to free up room.

For example, the Tigers needed to address the catching need. They added a catcher in the form of Wilson Ramos, which was in their best interest, allowing them to create a stopgap until prospects (Jake Rogers-soon or Dillon Dingler- future) are ready.

There are things that can be done beyond that, like adding infield depth from the free-agent market, but instead, it seems like Ilitch would prefer to avoid that altogether.

It is disappointing to sit and watch as minor league contract (with MLB spring-training invite) contracts continue to roll in.

Especially when it has been pitchers as of late, or a catcher in Dustin Garneau who is not a “fix” to the situation the Tigers are in. Ramos’ contract is a step in the right direction and he is a fix for the catcher position.

It is frustrating knowing that Al Avila is working with Ilitch’s cheap budget, and he is trying to do what he can. Usually, Avila is made out to be the bad guy, making a bad trade or a bad signing, but in this case, it seems like Ilitch might be the true villain.

Not to say that Avila has not made bad moves in the past, but in recent times, the issue falls on Ilitch’s avoidance of spending, looking to nickel and dime players just to get by. In the state of this rebuild, that strategy is not going to help.

The Tigers are in a position where they need a healthy mix of proven big-leaguers to slot in around the prospects that start filtering through. Spending $6.1 million on Jonathan Schoop was a prime example of this, but ahead of 2021, it seems like $6.1 million is out of Ilitch’s price range.

With Ilitch keeping his checkbook under lock and key, the rebuild is not going to go any smoother. One “positive” is that there is more room for prospects to poke through, but the rigid transition is not going to have as good of an effect as a lineup supported by veterans who can be there to help with the development and “settling in” of the prospects.

It just is frustrating to watch these minor league contracts come rolling in ahead of 2021 Spring Training. With all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto still on the market, he could be a major splash the Tigers make. He may not be the right signing, but with Ilitch, there’s no chance he is even considered, even with rumors earlier this offseason having the Tigers front office checking in on him.

The bottom line is that it is frustrating. Tigers fans should feel frustrated with the lack of player movement. Even with the lack of player movement across the league, what is stopping the Tigers from extending a $6.1 million contract to Jonathan Schoop, literally giving him the same contract once again?

Even if someone wants to argue that would be overpaying Schoop, it’s one year, the Tigers can afford a one-year deal with that figure. Keeping spending low is understandable, but not so low that the total of new major league deals the team brought in during the offseason is less than $10 million.

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The penny-pinching by Christopher Ilitch is disappointing, and it certainly is not helping the Detroit Tigers rebuild.