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2014 Outlook: Detroit Tigers

Jan 15, 2014, 4:00 PM EST

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2013 record: 93-69, 1st place in AL Central
Manager: Brad Ausmus, 1st season
Estimated 2014 payroll: $158 million
Key additions: 2B Ian Kinsler, RHP Joe Nathan, RHP Joba Chamberlain, LHP Ian Krol, INF Steve Lombardozzi
Key losses: 1B Prince Fielder, RHP Doug Fister, SS Jhonny Peralta, 2B Omar Infante, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Jose Veras

Projected lineup
2B Ian Kinsler
RF Torii Hunter
1B Miguel Cabrera
DH Victor Martinez
CF Austin Jackson
LF Andy Dirks
C Alex Avila
3B Nick Castellanos
SS Jose Iglesias

Projected rotation
RHP Justin Verlander
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Anibal Sanchez
RHP Rick Porcello
LHP Drew Smyly

Top relievers
CL Joe Nathan
RHP Bruce Rondon
RHP Joba Chamberlan

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. Was the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade the right move? The biggest transaction of the offseason came early when GM Dave Dombrowski dealt Fielder to the Rangers for Kinsler. The trade saved Detroit a lot of money, but was it a smart baseball decision? Losing Fielder hurts, big-time, but Kinsler is a nice pick-up. It also lets Miguel Cabrera move back to first base, where he’s less of a defensive liability. The key: Is 22-year-old top prospect Nick Castellanos, now the everyday third baseman, ready for the big-time?

2. Can Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly take the next step? Dombrowski’s other big trade sent Doug Fister to the Nationals, a move that puts pressure on young Porcello and Smyly to step up and keep the back end of the rotation reliable. Porcello has long been one of baseball’s most-intruiging arms, but in five MLB season he sports a 4.51 ERA. Smyly, meanwhile, was very effective out of the bullpen last year, but Detroit needs the lefty to make a smooth transition to the rotation.

3. Will the new-look bullpen make this team complete at last? The Tigers’ Achilles’ heel the last two season was obvious: They’re bullpen. With more reliable guys closing out games in October, they very well may have won a World Series. So Dombrowski finally went out and spent good money to bring in an elite closer: Joe Nathan. He also added setup man Joba Chamberlain, who is far more of a question mark after underachieving in New York. Those two will play a major role in trying to get Detroit over its October hump.

  1. Hiram Hover - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    Wow – $215M/7 for Kershaw. That sets a new top of the market for J Zimm and everybody else.

  2. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:59 PM

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2014/01/dodgers-to-extend-clayton-kershaw.html

    Go ahead, Stan, spend them into the ground. Works for me.

  3. bowdenball - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Kershaw is a special case. He’s two years younger than Zimmermann and was scheduled to hit free agency a year earlier. He’s setting the market for a guy like Bryce Harper who would hit the open market before his peak years more than he’s setting it for a guy like Jordan Zimmermann who, if he gets to free agency, would turn 30 within a few starts of his debut for his new team.

    • Hiram Hover - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      Good points about Kershaw as a special case.

      I don’t think anyone’s suggesting–I’m certainly not–that JZimm should expect what Kershaw got, but that Kershaw sets the max. against which lesser players measure themselves–like measuring your house against the bigger one down the block that just went for some insane amount.

  4. Faraz Shaikh - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:06 PM

    he has lot of innings for a 25 year old but I hope kershaw outperforms his salary. he is the kind of talent and person I cannot root against.

  5. jd - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    That’s $30 mil a year +. You better believe that changes the landscape. No JZim is not Kershaw but you know he is not signing for less than $20 mil a year on a long term deal. This may well price him out of town because you can’t pay everyone $20 mil a year.

    Keep in mind that the Yankees are in dire need of young quality pitching and the Red Sox staff is getting kind of long in the tooth.The only argument (and it’s not a trivial one) to entice someone like JZimm to sign now and for less than potential market value is the insurance against injury and/or a drop in performance.

    • Section 222 - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      The Dodgers are the new Yankees. Hopefully they start spending their money on veteran FAs who will fall apart by the end of the deal rather than best in baseball 27 year olds like Kershaw.

      I saw yesterday that five Dodgers (Kershaw, Greinke, Crawford, Kemp, and Gonzales will make more than $20 million next year. Only six other players in the NL will make over that threshold. And Hanley will make $16 million and will be an FA after next year. It may be true, as jd says, that you can’t pay everyone $20 mil a year, but the Dodgers may just try.

  6. veejh - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:51 AM

    No Sunday night games for the Nats this year. Good. We sucked on nationally televised games. I’m glad no one is picking us to win it all this year. Under the radar, baby.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:11 AM

      Sunday night 8:00 start games are tough in this town because the last Metro train often pulls out before the end of the game.

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