Reports have come out recently stating that the Detroit Tigers are open to hearing any offers on any players, including Miguel Cabrera, the Triple Crown jewel of Detroit. While this may seem to be drastic measures in response to a not so drastic situation, it really comes down to payroll. The Tigers and the New York Yankees had the highest payroll of teams to not make the playoffs. As it stands at this moment, the Detroit Tigers will have the 2nd most expensive team in the entire league in 2017. So it’s obvious this move is about clearing out some dollars, as well as some contractual mistakes.
The Tigers went big with their signings in the 2016 offseason, inking Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton to large deals. However, after those big signings didn’t materialize into production, the Tigers started to look more like the Motor City Kitties. Zimmermann was injured a lot of this season and there’s no reason to worry that he won’t be back up to his usual level of performance. The American League has always been a better hitting league, and you face more offense when you pitch in the AL. So this year was for Zim to figure that out and start back up next year. Having Zim sit out most of this season, might actually benefit him in 2017.
Justin Upton on the other hand… that’s more difficult to figure out. Upton’s 2016 was his worst statistical year since his rookie season. Hindsight is 20/20 and at the time the signing was a good one. So what went wrong? Nothing. I’m looking at this being caused by one thing, the other Tigers in the lineup. Justin Upton has always been the best player on the teams he’s played for, except this one. Upton was never going to hit in a position he was comfortable in. He’s not the biggest threat in the lineup and he’ll be treated like a non-threat. Pitchers went after him and he struck out more than he ever has. HOWEVER, Upton has an opt out clause in his contract after 2017. Whether or not he takes it will 100% depend on what happens next year. Upton, much like Cespedes, has bounced around the league these past few years, never staying in the same place for more than 2 years. If Upton has another bad year, he probably won’t want to stay in a place that is extremely disappointed in his play or sees him as a player who couldn’t play up to his contract value.
That’s problem that happens a lot with big contracts. We watched it happen all year the Cubs and Jason Heyward. A guy signs a huge contract and his numbers drop off the charts. The team is then stuck with a massive amount of money owed and a guy who can barely hit his weight. Carl Crawford is the poster boy for this exact sentiment.
Carl Crawford had amazing stats when playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays/Just Rays. GREAT SPEED, GREAT NUMBERS, GREAT PLAYER. In 2010, Crawford netted himself a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove, an All Star nod and was 7th in the MVP voting. Boston was tired of playing against him. The Sox offered Crawford a a 7 year, $142 million deal. I’ll let Crawford explain what happened next.
“I would like to think I know when it’s time to make big decisions in your life you know to do a little more research. Look into a little bit more. I decided to sign with the Red Sox in five minutes. I didn’t have no time to think about it. They told me this, bam, 10 minutes later I was signing with the Red Sox. It was one of those things I didn’t look into it as much as I should have. I didn’t call other players and ask around. I didn’t do nothing. I just had my eye on one thing at the time. Once I realized it and I had seven years I didn’t know what to do. It was just one of those things I had to sit out and wait. I was dealing with the struggling at the time and a bunch of other stuff. I had been in Tampa so we had been shielded from a lot of media stuff. I didn’t have to go through that stuff. That was new for me, dealing with the media and stuff like that. I didn’t how to handle all that stuff up there and it showed in my game. Then I started getting hurt all the time. It was just always bad, bad all the time.”
What happened to Carl Crawford? Well, his contract was traded to the Dodgers and they essentially let him sit there, and finally released him this year. The remaining $35 million will be the largest sum ever eaten by an MLB team. Contracts get into your head. Upton has to prove he’s not just a fluke.
The real issue for the Detroit Tigers is Anibal Sanchez, who they signed to a deal that back in 2013 looked like a good idea. Sanchez was signed to a 5 year, $80 million deal and in the first year LIVED UP TO THE FUCKING HYPE. Anibal was 14-8 with an ERA of 2.57, which found him 4th in the Cy Young voting. Anibal was legit. However, every year following has been worse and worse. That pristine ERA of 2.57 fell to 3.43, 4.99 and 5.87 this year. Following that formula, Sanchez will be hurling with a +6.00 ERA next year. That’s not gonna do it for a club that has the potential ammunition for a playoff run. The issue with Sanchez is that his contract pays him $16 million a year until 2019, even though he has a club option in 2018 WHICH THEY BETTER FUCKING OPT OUT OF. So you’re stuck with Sanchez for at least two more years, but you lose that $16 million, and you can’t trade him because he’s bad. You have to make it worthwhile for the team eating that contract. The Dodgers got Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez when they took on Carl Crawford’s deal, so it ended up being semi-worth it. To clear some space the Tigers need to package some rough contracts to freshen up the payroll and sweeten some deals.
And now the Detroit Tigers have shipped Cameron Maybin to the Los Angeles Angels for Right-handed pitching prospect Victor Alcantara. This is a contract dump, while getting something in return. Detroit couldn’t justify taking Maybin’s option this year so they traded him and let Los Angeles immediately pick it up. Really simple. Maybin is the first casualty for Detroit, and it would appear that one or two more will leave the Motor City before the dust settles. This shouldn’t scare any Tigers fans. Michael Fulmer was the biggest surprise this season, as far I’m concerned. If he the Mets had known he was going to be this, they probably would have held onto him. This is the Tigers front office investing in the futures by literally investing in Futures. This is how you not only win a World Series, but you keep coming back. The Tigers are just going about it a different way, than most.