There are, apparently, 182 free agents this year. (Well, John McDonald re-signing with the Diamondbacks would make that 181, I suppose.) So here’s how I’m going to waste my time: going over most of the 181 and my thoughts on whether the Tigers should make a phone call or two to someone’s agent.
By the way, in terms of ratings, we’ll be using the Jeff Passan Free Agency Spectacular on Yahoo. From the top, beneath the cut:
1. Albert Pujols, 1B; Well, this would be nice, but let’s not waste words on this one. It isn’t happening.
2. Prince Fielder, 1B; This one isn’t happening either. I’d rather have Prince in five years than Pujols, though. There, I said it.
3. Yu Darvish, SP; I’d love to take a shot at this one, but frankly, the posting fee is probably going to be higher than the Tigers can go, much less the actual contract. Shame, that. I’d be willing to take a chance on this one.
4. Jose Reyes, SS; This would be nice. It would probably involve the Tigers moving Jhonny Peralta to third base (like the Indians did, which some say did his offensive numbers no favors – just something to consider). That said, it isn’t happening. Still too expensive. It’s extremely difficult to imagine the Tigers going $10 million annually on any player this winter, much less $20 million.
5. C.J. Wilson, SP; …which pretty much rules out Wilson, too. In my mind, he’s a top-tier number two and a number one on some teams. Someone will (over)pay him ace money. It won’t be the Tigers.
6. Carlos Beltran, OF; Nope. Expensive, nowhere to put him.
7. Roy Oswalt, SP; I’ve never been a huge Oswalt fan, and frankly, the deal to get him will probably be longer than I’d be comfortable giving him.
8. Jimmy Rollins, SS; He wants four years. No. No thank you.
9. Grady Sizemore, OF; I don’t agree with his placement this high, and even on the rare occasion he’s been healthy, he has not looked like a very good player the last few years. Tigers could consider going for a one year deal and throwing him in left, but they’re going to settle for Delmon Young there. This isn’t happening, nor should it, really.
10. Aramis Ramirez, 3B; No. No. No. Terrible defender, terrible baserunner, 33 years old and counting. Someone will give him more years and more money than he should get. If the Tigers are going to use someone as a bridge to Nick Castellanos, they really should go cheaper.
11. David Ortiz, DH; Nope. Tigers have a DH.
12. Mark Buehrle, SP; Wouldn’t mind this on a short-term deal, but let’s be honest, he’s going back to Chicago.
13. Hiroki Kuroda, SP; He’s not coming here either, wanted or not. Cheaper is better anyway.
14. Jonathan Papelbon, RP; Not happening.
15. Ryan Madson, RP; Also not happening. Any closers are ruled out immediately; the Tigers already overpaid for a setup man last year anyway.
16. Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF; Tigers could do worse than this, but I don’t think they’ll take much of a look here. He’s 33, after all.
17. Edwin Jackson, SP; We know all about Edwin. Someone will overpay here too. Won’t be Detroit.
18. Hisashi Iwakuma, SP; I know nothing about him, but he’s the second best Japanese import on the market this winter, apparently. He’s 30, though. Nothing to see here.
19. Carlos Pena, 1B; Tigers have no use for him.
20. Heath Bell, RP; See Papelbon and Madson.
21. Javier Vazquez, SP; People forget he was really good for the Marlins down the stretch last year. Might retire, but either way, he’d be wise to stick in the National League if he plays somewhere next year (and someone will assuredly take him).
22. Francisco Rodriguez, RP; Will want to close somewhere, and for too much, too.
23. Josh Willingham, OF; Probably priced himself out of the Tigers’ budget. They were rumored to be interested in trading for him last winter. Would be a decent left fielder (though he struck out at Jacksonian rates last year) but this isn’t happening.
24. Jason Kubel, OF; I could get on board with this. Not sure what he’ll cost, but it will probably still be too expensive, and the Tigers already have a lefty hitter in right field anyway.
25. Paul Maholm, SP; One of my favorite back-end options, though he has health questions. He’ll more than likely get a multi-year deal and I can’t see the Tigers being one of the teams willing to commit that.
26. David DeJesus, OF; Always been a fan, but outfielders are low on the Tigers’ list of priorities. Would look nice in left and is a decent buy low option, but I doubt it happens.
27. Kelly Johnson, 2B; He’s a type A free agent, and I’d really rather not see the Tigers surrender a first round draft pick in order to sign Kelly Johnson. He does hit homers, though. Looked good down the stretch for Toronto.
28. Jonathan Broxton, RP; On an incentive-laden one or two year deal, I am all over this. Of course, I’m also a self-professed Broxton fanboy. Take this idea with a grain of salt.
29. Coco Crisp, OF; Even if you think the Tigers should look elsewhere in center for next year, it won’t happen.
30. Tsuyoshi Wada, SP; Japanese import number three. This one’s a lefty. Know nothing about him, doubt it happens anyway.
31. Erik Bedard, SP; I suppose I could close my eyes and swallow this one if I had to on a one-year incentive laden deal; better have someone ready to make the 10-15 starts he’ll inevitably miss while on the DL, though.
32. Joel Piniero, SP; I’d like this one. Yes, the shoulder is a question mark, but he’s a year removed from a sub-4 ERA with the Angels. Could serve as a nice one-year bridge to Jacob Turner if they think Turner needs more seasoning.
33. Aaron Hill, 2B; 30 years old next year. Great in 2009, terrible since. Would make a lot of sense to sign him to a one year deal, let him try his hand at second. If he succeeds, great. If he fails again, you can DFA him in July when Ryan Raburn turns into Cinderella.
34. Johnny Damon, DH/OF; This ship has sailed.
35. Kerry Wood, RP; Cubs or nowhere for him.
36. Francisco Cordero, RP; His best years are behind him. Enter at your own risk.
37. Jim Thome, DH; Nowhere for him to go here. Of course, signing him to ensure that he can’t hit more killer home runs against the Tigers might be worth the roster spot. (Kidding, kidding… I think…)
38. Rich Harden, SP; Would be more on board with this than I would be Bedard, but the injury caveat applies just as much here as it does there. When he’s healthy, he can be very good. Easier said than done. I’d still be willing to give this one a shot.
39. Casey Kotchman, 1B; No. For many reasons.
40. LaTroy Hawkins, RP; Tigers could do worse, but, uh, no thank you.
41. Jason Marquis, SP; Innings-eater. Could make a nice one-year bridge option as the fifth starter.
42. Hideki Matsui, OF/DH; Can I just ignore the DH? And the first basemen? And…yeah.
43. Bartolo Colon, SP; Predictably turned into a pumpkin.
44. Mark Ellis, 2B; Good defender, which would be a welcome change from Tigers second basemen of the past two years. Not much of a hitter, but…we’re used to that by now, aren’t we?
45. Jamey Carroll, UT; Old, has no power, but he gets on base and plays a good enough second base. Tigers could do worse, although I wouldn’t go more than one year here.
46. Bruce Chen, SP; I have a deep, deep fear that this might happen. And I am scared. Stats be damned, he is still Bruce Chen.
47. Ryan Ludwick, OF; Nope. Still making a career out of that one good year, anyway.
48. Takashi Saito, RP; Wouldn’t mind a one year deal here if he doesn’t retire. He may be old, but he’s had success everywhere he’s been, including stops in Texas and Boston.
49. Matt Capps, RP; I’d say no even if he weren’t a Type A. Talk about a poison pill.
50. Chris Capuano, SP; Well, he’s a lefty that can eat innings (as long as his arm doesn’t die again). He also posted a 4.55 ERA at Citi Field. Ehm. (Course, he also underperformed according to his peripherals. But still.)
51. Darren Oliver, RP; I just…no.
52. Ryan Doumit, C/OF; Perpetually hurt, but hey, he can play multiple positions, including backup catcher. Could do worse. Not like he’s been a bad player when he’s actually on the field. Really creepy eyes, though.
53. Chad Qualls, RP; Struck out barely 5 batters per 9 last year. Oh, Petco. Let’s not go here.
54. Brad Lidge, RP; One-pitch pitcher at this point. Slider or bust. Tigers could do better.
55. Joe Nathan, RP; Age and Tommy John appear to be catching up with him, though he wasn’t terrible after a truly awful start. A bit wary of this one.
56. Andruw Jones, OF/DH; No.
57. Wilson Betemit, 3B; I don’t really think the Tigers will bring him back. Underwhelming in so many ways in his two-month stint to the point where he essentially rendered himself useless in the postseason.
58. Matt Murton, OF; Still alive! Might be some upside play here, but I doubt the Tigers will be the team taking that flier.
59. Derrek Lee, 1B; First base…nowhere to go….
60. Ramon Hernandez, C; Palatable backup option. Could fit. Feel like the Tigers could do better.
61. Jeff Francis, SP; Seems to be healthy again; eats innings, doesn’t walk many, throws with left arm. Would be willing to give him a year as a number five.
62. Aaron Harang, SP; Petco really makes some people look good, don’t it?
63. Freddy Garcia, SP; Wouldn’t count on another year like 2011 out of him. Or anything close, really.
64. Kosuke Fukudome, OF; Gets on base (somehow) but not much of a fit here.
65. Frank Francisco, RP; We’ve already done the Fernando Rodney thing once. I’m not terribly interested in doing it again.
66. Cody Ross, OF; Would be valuable addition in NLCS against Roy Halladay. Wait, it doesn’t work that way?
67. Clint Barmes, UT; Not a starter. Would only be interested if Ramon Santiago finds greener pastures elsewhere.
68. Vladimir Guerrero, DH; No…no…no…
69. Juan Rivera, OF; Probably going back to the Dodgers, but no anyway.
70. Raul Ibanez, OF; To quote Passan: “give him a tiny park, platoon him and keep him away from the field, and it’s an excellent signing.” In other words, not here.
71. J.D. Drew, OF; Probably not going to play next year; even if he did, run far away.
72. Ronny Cedeno, SS; Very low on my list of “if Santiago leaves” replacements. Very…very…low.
73. Alex Gonzalez, SS; Even lower.
74. Rafael Furcal, SS; Not an everyday player anymore. Little value to be had here.
75. Jerry Hairston, UT; On the other hand, would be more than open to having him if Santiago leaves; of course, he’ll be highly valued, so the Tigers would have to compete for his servuces.
76. Juan Pierre, OF; How many different ways can I say no?
77. Livan Hernandez, SP; This list is about to get real ugly.
78. Kevin Millwood, SP; Oh, yes. Officially ugly.
79. Joel Zumaya, RP; I’ll take him on a non-guaranteed deal. Will probably never be healthy again, but if a miracle happens, why not happen here?
80. Mike Gonzalez, RP; Oy. LOOGY alert. Not a terrible LOOGY, but a LOOGY all the same – I mean, the Rangers managed to get some value out of him in the postseason. Depends on how much faith you have in Daniel Schlereth.
81. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B; He got DFA’d by the Athletics. Who need all the hitters they can get. Enough said.
82. Ramon Santiago, UT; Would love to have him back if at all possible. Someone else will probably want him, though. I’d be open to two years.
83. Endy Chavez, OF; Nice fourth outfielder. Do the Tigers really need a fourth outfielder? Maybe, but probably not.
84. Nick Punto, IF; NYAHAGAYGAUYAGYUF. Well, in all honesty, if Santiago leaves…no. I’m not going to say it. Leave me alone.
85. Dontrelle Willis, SP; Hahahahahahahahahahaha
86. Rod Barajas, C; Would make an excellent backup. Someone might want him as more than that, though. (Seriously, the catcher market sucks.)
87. Jon Rauch, RP; Had been decent for a while, but really fell apart in the second half last year. Whether that’s because of injury or general suckitude is an open question.
88. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS; Spare me. Lord, spare me.
89. Willie Bloomquist, UT; Quoth Passan again: “Still doesn’t have a season with an OPS+ over 86.”
90. Octavio Dotel, RP; If he hasn’t turned into a pumpkin yet, it’s coming soon.
91. Dan Wheeler, RP; Slightly screwed by peripherals last year, would be a decent option to shore up middle relief that was so sorely lacking in the postseason. Walked less than 1.5 batters per nine last year, too. Hooray cut fastballs.
92. Arthur Rhodes, RP; Walking away from this one very quickly.
93. Reed Johnson, OF; He’s Delmon Young to the extreme. He walked five times last year. No thank you.
94. Rick Ankiel, OF; Get ready to read a lot of consecutive nos.
95. Laynce Nix, OF; No.
96. Jorge Posada, DH; No.
97. Mike MacDougal, RP; He ain’t gonna post a 2.05 ERA again with that K/BB ratio.
98. Luis Ayala, RP; Not him either.
99. Aaron Cook, SP; Tigers could do much, much better if they’re looking for a fifth starter.
100. Wily Mo Pena, OF; Heh.
Without boring you on the remaining 81 available free agents (most of whom are simple “NO” anyway), here are a few of interest, both good and bad:
101. Andrew Brackman, SP; Someone will sign him. Prospect who lost all command of everything last year. Tigers giving him a shot wouldn’t be the worst thing.
102. Shawn Camp, RP; Somehow gets results despite never striking anyone out. Low on my list of potential middle relief targets, but hey, he’s gotten results.
104. Chien-Ming Wang, SP; Well, if you really want to take a flier, why not? Likely to return to Washington, though.
108. Guillermo Mota, RP; If it comes to this, we’re in trouble.
109. Jason Isringhausen, RP; Even worse if it comes to this.
114. Casey Blake, 3B; Hits lefties better than righties. So does Brandon Inge, and Inge is still a better defender.
116. Magglio Ordonez, OF; It’s over. He’s a DH now, for all intents and purposes, and the Tigers can’t offer him much of a role even if his career isn’t in question.
118. Carlos Guillen, UT; See Magglio. Hasn’t had much of anything for at least two, more like three years.
119. Edgar Renteria, IF; NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
120. Jack Wilson, IF; Remember when the Tigers were enamored with this guy?
121. Fernando Rodney, RP; NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
122. Conor Jackson, OF/1B; What happened to him? He was good once. Now he sucks. Nope.
123. Kelly Shoppach, C; Would make a great backup. Great power, meh everything else, but that’ll get you somewhere, anyway. Could very well be in play for Detroit.
124. Jon Garland, SP; First run-in with the injury gods last year. Maybe worth a fifth starter flier if some other options fall through.
125. Nate McLouth, OF; Remember when he was good too?
126. Brad Penny, SP; If the Tigers brought Brad Penny back I’d become a Twins fan.
127. David Aardsma, RP; Will be a late arrival due to Tommy John recovery. We’ll see if he can regain form. Not the worst option.
128. Michael Wuertz, RP; His arm died. I mean, I don’t see him recovering, but fliers are fliers.
129. Brian Sanches, RP; Consistent peripheral outperformer.
132. Brandon Wood, 3B; Come on. I had to mention Brandon Wood. This guy could’ve been the centerpiece of a Miguel Cabrera to the Angels deal, guys.
135. Willie Harris, UT; Intriguing option if Ramon Santiago departs. Except he doesn’t play shortstop.
141. Gerald Laird, C; Still fired.
144. Jose Molina, C; Backup? Doubt it.
149. Orlando Cabrera, IF; Seen his name tossed around. If Santiago leaves and this is the best the Tigers can do replacement-wise, we are all screwed.
159. Matt Treanor, C; Well, they did try this once.
Everyone that I didn’t mention? Well, they pretty much suck. Or are unnecessary. Or more than likely both.
I’d like to see the Tigers address second base, backup catcher, middle relief, and possibly a veteran fifth starter. Backup catcher should be simple enough. There are a few middle relievers that I’d be willing to take a flier on. There’s no shortage of fifth starter options. Second base will be tougher, as will third base, should they choose to address that as well.
The changes to the Tigers will more than likely be minor. There will be no Reyeses (Reyesi?) or Wilsons in our future. It’ll be some fine-tuning. The Tigers had flaws, and the ALCS exposed them (they had to work Benoit and Valverde to death in that series because the rest of the relief corp, sans Phil Coke, utterly failed). Alex Avila was all but dead because the Tigers had no means of resting him in the dog days of August. They never had a real second baseman. This is a team that was still two wins shy of the AL pennant. Fine-tuning is okay. Remember, the postseason is a crapshoot. You just have to build the best team you can and hope you get there, and then hope people (like David Freese) catch fire.
The core of a 95 win team will be back. With some tinkering, there’s no reason to believe they’re not incapable of equaling that in 2012.