Newly minted President of Baseball Operations, Scott Harris spent the offseason making long-overdue changes on the field, off the field, and even TO the field for a reeling Detroit Tigers organization. Given the colossal disaster he was handed, it’s hard to judge Harris harshly. But if you thought rebuilds suck, RE-rebuilds are the fucking worst.

After a promising final five months of the 2021 season, Tigers fans were justified in thinking the worst of a half-decade-long rebuild was behind us, especially when key positions of weakness at SS and in the rotation had been addressed emphatically by big-name free agents Javy Báez and Eduardo Rodriguez. That, plus the promise of a potentially dominant young rotation anchored by Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, as well as the impending arrival of top prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson all had the Motor City ready to explode.

Little did we know, the wheels would fall off in every conceivable (and inconceivable) way. Injuries and underperformance are always part of the game, but to have the entire rotation go down coupled with multiple (and lengthy) absences for personal and mental health issues made it feel more like a Simpsons episode rather than a sobering reality. Add in a historically bad offense and it was the perfect shitstorm to get a likable, yet hapless Al Avila finally fired after 20 years in the front office.

Now enters Harris with a blank slate and carte blanche to do whatever the fuck it takes to get the rig back on the road. His stated first order of business is… say it with me: “CONTROL THE STRIKE ZONE” on both sides of the ball. The most obvious Tigers’ asset utterly incapable of this seemingly simple task was erratic closer, Gregory Soto

Soto was just another in a long line of Motown closers gifted with electric arms, yet tragically lacking any ability to harness that magic to consistently throw strikes. So I’m impressed Harris was able to get both OF Matt Vierling and IF/OF Nick Maton—two potential big league position players—plus the Phillies’ #21 prospect, Donny Sands from Diamond Dave Dombrowski in return.

After six years in the Tigers’ organization, Joe Jiménez proved to be an effective receiver only in low-leverage, mop-up situations. Moving him to Atlanta for 22-year-old premium 3B/OF prospect, Justyn-Henry Malloy and a minor league reliever is a better return than anyone could have reasonably expected.

However, now we need to look at the negative side of the ledger. Signing journeyman SP Michael Lorenzen and bringing Mathew Boyd back into the organization amounts to the bare minimum effort to bolster a rotation decimated by injuries. Letting 3B Jeimer Candelario walk for nothing is the worst example of failing to maximize an asset who led the league in doubles and had an OPS+ of 125 and an fWAR of 3.9 just two seasons ago.


Any GM in a rebuilding offseason will struggle to get a passing grade in my book, but I took it easy on Harris who inherited an absolute mess. Maximizing the value of the assets he had at the backend of the bullpen in a season in which closing out games isn’t necessarily a priority is good business.

However, I’m not letting him or owner Chris Ilitch off the hook. Just 12 months ago the Tigers appeared to be on the verge of playoff contention. While a disastrous season ensued, taking steps backward and embarking on yet another rebuild (without calling it a ‘rebuild’) was a choice. They could’ve chosen to view last year as a horrible anomaly and pushed forward, continuing to build around a young core that had the city of Detroit buzzing at this time one year ago. Instead, Tigers fans find themselves in an all-to-familiar place as the vicious cycle of more meaningless seasons ahead begins again with no end in sight.


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