It’s safe to say that new Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila has been busy since taking over for Dave Dombrowski. In Avila’s first offseason in charge, the new head man in the Tigers front office has made a slew of signings and trades that were both astute and cost efficient.
Detroit has already added the likes Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Pelfrey, Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe, Justin Wilson, Cameron Maybin and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. These additions have satisfied the team’s needs in the starting rotation and the bullpen, as well as adding extra depth in areas such as centerfield and behind the plate.
What’s not included in that list is a legitimate left fielder. With a considerable amount of time left before spring training, should the Tigers add another left fielder? Here are some of the team’s options.
Stick With What You’ve Got
With the acquisition of Maybin, the team now employs three starting-caliber outfielders: Maybin, Anthony Gose and J.D. Martinez. However, Maybin and Gose are natural center fielders while Martinez is entrenched in right field.
There is some logic in playing both Maybin and Gose together. Both can eat up ground in the outfield, and paired with Martinez’ cannon of an arm in right would provide an intriguing defensive trio. There is also the fact that Maybin and Gose (46 combined stolen bases in 2015) provide Detroit and manager Brad Ausmus a fair amount of speed. Additionally, should either player struggle with the bat, their offensive shortcomings would be hidden by the production of Miguel Cabrera and Martinez among others.
However, the fact remains that neither player has much experience in left. Gose grades out well at the position in terms of defensive metrics, but he has only logged 41 games there. Maybin has even more inexperience. The outfielder has only played in 10 games in left field, all of which came in 2007 when he was a rookie with the Tigers.
Tyler Collins and Steven Moya also present internal options for Detroit.
The Big Names
Detroit has previously been linked (via CBS Sports’ John Heyman) to big name free agents like Yoenis Cespedes and Alex Gordon. Both, especially Gordon, would be excellent fits with the Tigers. However, CBS Detroit reports that Avila said the Tigers were “at this point” out on both Cespedes and Gordon.
Based on that, it appears that Detroit won’t sign either, but the key wording is “at this point.” It’s certainly not inconceivable to see the team sign either at a somewhat later date should the two remain on the open market.
Carlos Gonzalez is another player that could help the Tigers. Gonzalez’ blend of defensive skill and the ability to hit for average and power is extremely appealing, however the team may be cautious with the player’s hefty salary.
The Platoon Types
While the free agent market offers only a few legitimate, difference-making corner outfielders, there are a plethora of outfielders who could excel in a platoon. David Murphy and Travis Snider are just a few options that could find a home in Detroit.
Names Out of Left Field
First of all, pun intended. Second of all, the Tigers have already made trades for players (Maybin and Miller) who didn’t dominate the trade rumors. In other words, the players didn’t seem likely to be dealt as say someone like Shelby Miller. Avila could conceivably make a trade for a left fielder that quite literally comes out of left field.
There are a number of former Detroit outfielders available. Whether the team pursues them or not remains to be seen, but in addition to Cespedes, Matt Joyce, Delmon Young, Rajai Davis, Ryan Raburn, and Austin Jackson are all currently free agents.
The Lottery Tickets
The Tigers’ decision makers were rewarded when they took a gamble on a talented young player, J.D. Martinez, whose previous employers had moved on. Could the team take a similar gamble this offseason?
Alex Grossman is a name on the market who is in a similar situation to Martinez.
Grossman, who like Martinez was cut by the Astros, is only 26-years-old and comes with over 600 at-bats spread across parts of three big-league seasons. The outfielder is more of an all-around player, with 11 home runs, 15 stolen bases, 63 RBI and a .240 batting average in 190 games. He was a top prospect as a minor-league player and still has the time to fulfill his potential.