In an age of smart phones, instant messaging and Facetime, I’m not really sure why the Winter Meetings are still the center of off-season wheeling and dealing. I guess GMs still feel the need to meet face to face in smoke-filled back rooms of massive hotels to pull off the deals that shape their respective franchises. Or maybe it’s just the holiday spirit of giving that takes hold of them. That must’ve been the case five years ago in what has to be the most lopsided Secret Sana exchange ever when the Marlins generously gave the Tigers reigning Triple Crown champion and AL MVP Miguel Cabrera for the likes of Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop—none of which are Marlins anymore and most of which are out of baseball today. Needless to say, December 5, 2007 will always be a benchmark moment in baseball gift-giving history.
Whatever the reason, we can expect some big moves this week in Nashville. So as long as we’re in a giving mood, I figured I’d throw my Christmas list for the Tigers out there. Dave Dombrowski has already stuffed Tigers fans’ stockings with Torii Hunter who will fill the #2 slot perfectly in an already potent lineup and is suited nicely to help patrol Comerica Park’s spacious outfield. But, like any greedy kid at Christmas, I want more.
- Re-sign Anibal Sanchez. I was skeptical when the trade went down, especially because I generally don’t like the chance of success for NL pitchers moving to the superior AL. But Sanchez has done more than enough to prove me wrong and prove his worth in the critical final months (seven Quality Starts over his last eight outings) and especially in the playoffs (1.77 ERA over three QSs). I’ll take those numbers from my #4 starter any day. He might command a higher price tag than normal considering the dearth of SP free agents out there, but we all know Mike Ilitch has the money and the motivation to win a World Series before he dies.
- Trade Rick Porcello and Jhonny Peralta. It’s time to pull the plug on Porcello while his value is still relatively high. We’ve seen who he is—an average pitcher with “potential” upside. I’d rather watch some other city deal with him not reaching that potential and get someone of value in return. Plus, a change of scenery and a move to the NL could actually be good for the kid. As for Jhonny, we were very lucky to get a career year out of him in 2011, but he definitely came back to earth this year. His mediocre 2012 numbers are far more indicative of wheat we’re going to get out of him from here on out and the 31-year old’s lack of range defensively isn’t going to get any better. Believe it or not, there does appear to be some interest in him on the trade market. Perhaps a three-way (and who doesn’t love a good three-way) between the Tigers, D’backs, and Indians could send Asdrubal Cabrera to Detroit, Peralta and Porcello to the desert, and Arizona’s top pitching prospect, Trevor Bauer, to Cleveland who should be desperate to rebuild their pathetic rotation (5.25 ERA in 2012). Reopening the pipeline of shortstops from Cleveland to Detroit just as they hit their prime would make for a very merry Christmas in Motown.
- Sign Rafael Soriano. Now I’m getting really greedy. While we’ve said goodbye and good riddance to Clownshoes, (a.k.a. Jose Valverde), it does leave a gaping hole at the back of the bullpen. It looks like Dombrowski is content to go with 22-year old flamethrower, Bruce Rondon as his closer, but I think that’s merely posturing to gain at least a little leverage in free agent negotiations that may be going on as I type this. If the Tigers are truly serious about taking the next step (and I’m sure they are), a reliable, proven closer will be key. Soriano certainly fits the bill with 87 Saves and a 2.01 ERA over his last two season as a full-time closer (2010 & 2012). Many have suggested Detroit won’t spend the big money agent Scott Boras is sure to demand, but it would be far more costly to waste the best offense and starting rotation in the game because you weren’t willing to spend the money to close the deal, so to speak.
Will I throw a temper tantrum if I don’t get everything on my list this year? Probably. But after I’m done pouting I’ll take solace in the fact that even if the Tigers don’t make any more major moves, adding Hunter as well as de facto free-agent pickup, Victor Martinez will be among the strongest off-season maneuvers of any team in the league—a league whose title already resides in the Motor City. Anything more would be icing on the cake. Merry Christmas to me!