In my first attempt at this, I went conservative and cost conscious.
No blockbuster deals, just a necessary one.
No jaw dropping signings, just freedom from financial opporession in the near future, while making another run.
In future versions of these I'll ship Fielder off, and maybe Scherzer too.
(salary increased as arb eligible)
(free agent signing)
C - Alex Avila ($4 million)
1B - Prince Fielder (23)
2B - Wilmer Flores
SS - Julio Iglesias (2)
3B - Miguel Cabrera (22)
RF - Torii Hunter (14)
CF - Austin Jackson (5)
LF - Nate McLouth (5 AAV 2 yr deal)
DH - Victor Martinez (12)
C - Bryan Holaday
LF/RF/3B/1B/DH - Nick Castellanos
UTL - Don Kelly (1.5)
INF - Hernan Perez
DH - Michael Young (5)
SP - Justin Verlander (20)
SP - Max Scherzer (16)
SP - Anibal Sanchez (15.8)
SP - Doug Fister (6)
SP - Drew Smyly (500k)
RP - Joaquin Benoit (7.5 AAV 2 yr deal w/option for 3rd)
RP - Scott Downs ( (4.5 AAV 2 yr deal)
RP - Bruce Rondon
RP - Al Alburquerque (1)
RP - Corey Knebel
RP - Jose Alvarez
My estimation is that this roster will cost in the mid 160s.
PHOTO CREDI T - GETTY IMAGES
Your first question is, 'who the hell is Wilmer Flores?!' He's what I got the Tigers in return for Rick Porcello. Porcello was possibly looking at $6 to 7 million in another year of arbitration. Far too costly for a 5th starter, when Smyly is waiting, so it was time for him to go. Porcello heads to Flushing to pitch just an hour away from his hometown of Morristown, NJ.
Matt Harvey is out for 2014, Santana is not going back and there's uncertainty with Mets rotation before they can fully rely on Zack Wheeler and their other top SP prospect, Noah Syndergaard. Porcello arrives to a friendly pitcher's park, in a league with no DH, and can share that winning baseball teams DO indeed exist to the other young vets currently on the Mets staff, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese.
Wilmer Flores is currently a top 5 prospect (though that's not saying much) for the Mets. who doesn't seem to have a role moving forward in New York. He's not a good defensive player, but he can hit. Think of him as the new Jhonny Peralta, except he's playing second.
Nate McLouth isn't a splashy addition, but he's now signed for just 2 years at a reasonable price. A bit of a weakness against LHP, but against RHP, he'll make for a fine leadoff hitter, who'll take a walk a bit more willingly than Jackson, but won't strike out nearly as much. He can run too; 30 SBs in 37 attempts.
Castellanos plays in LF against LHPs, and so that he doesn't get just 4 or 5 PAs a week, he'll play a little bit everywhere else, much like Jurickson Profar did for the Rangers last year. He's in Detroit to play, not sit.
Michael Young gets another shot at a ring. He's finished in the field, but if he's accepts his role as 'hitter' off the bench, I like the addition a lot.
Hernan Perez is the newew and speedier Ramon Santiago.
Smyly finally hits the rotation, but when he's skipped as the fifth starter because of off days, he's back in his Fireman role.
Why wouldn't we bring back Benoit? As long as he can throw that changeup - not the one he threw to Ortiz - I'm as comfortable with him as the closer in '14 (setup Rondon in '15) as any free agent closer. I like the familiarity. He gets a $2.5 million dollar raise too.
All I need to tell you about Scott Downs is that in over 1,000 PAs, LHBs have hit just .219 against him with an OPS of .605. Hello to your new LOOGY.
Though just drafted in June, Corey Knebel will be 22 in November. The Tigers need to find their Trevor Rosenthal/Carlos Martinez/etc...and Knebel may be it. as the closer in A-ball West Michigan this past summer, Knebel had 15 saves, 41 K's in 31 IP and a WHIP of .77. In 6 AFL innings, Knebel's K'd 7 and allowed 4 hits. Congrats Kid, you've earned a shot at a job in Lakeland. Throw hard.
The Alvarez spot in the bullpen is fungible, though he's there as your long man.
This roster isn't perfect, but I tried to approach this construction with cost consciousness in mind. With the slew of short deals, it's not inconceivable to resign Scherzer at an affordable rate. Be wary though, to make that more likely, Fister is the next to get moved a year from now.
Pros: No insane overpays in free agency, and a lot of money goes away within 2 years to hopefully bring in reinforcements to a blossoming Castellanos and an aged core of Verlander, Sanchez, and whoever else is still around.
Flores and Castellanos may not be speed demons, nor are they Olympians, but with youth comes improved athleticism.
McLouth will have my green light to go.
Power arms in the pen with Al Al, Rondon and Knebel.
No Coke. No Dirks.
Jackson can bat 6th against RHPs. Perhaps, even against LHPs, if and it's a HUGE IF, Castellanos some how manages to be patient beyond his years at the plate. I just need the Tigers leadoff man to be on base, for the thunder behind him.
Cons: Light pen, which can be massaged throughout the year.
Flores might be a disaster defensively.
Benoit and Downs' age is a little worrisome.
No one ever called Al Al consistent.
Knebel and Rondon have to contribute.
Michael Young could be totally finished and waived before the All Star Game.