More PreviewsClose

Detroit Tigers

Presented by

Projected WARMarket Value

11.8 106


9.8 88


1.1 10


Projected WAR by grouping is from Fangraphs’ depth charts.
Historically each win is worth ~$9 million on the free agent market

Projected Team

  • Leonys Martin, CF
  • Jeimer Candelario, 3B
  • Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  • Nicholas Castellanos, RF
  • Victor Martinez, DH
  • James McCann, C
  • Mikie Mahtook, LF
  • Jose Iglesias, SS
  • Dixon Machado, 2B
  • Jordan Zimmerman, RHP
  • Michael Fulmer, RHP
  • Francisco Liriano, LHP
  • Mike Fiers, RHP
  • Matthew Boyd, LHP
  • Ron Gardenhire

Health Check

“Here at Bless You Boys, we dreamed about what 2018 could be. First, we went on a shopping spree of epic proportions, adding the best free agents in the class — yes, all of them — to the current roster in hopes of catching up with the American League’s elite. Then, we got a little more reasonable and still found a team that could maybe compete for a Wild Card spot. We even suggested bringing back Phil Coke because fingerpoints and knuckleballs are fun, dammit.

Needless to say, the Tigers didn’t listen. They signed left-hander Francisco Liriano to a one-year deal at the start of spring training, but have otherwise remained content to let their bevy of minor league signings mix in with a roster that finished the 2017 season on a 6-24 run take its lumps in 2018. They have enough talent to stay out of the AL Central cellar, but that might say more about the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox than anything.

The Tigers are now entrenched in a long-predicted rebuild. While they have some interesting prospects down on the farm and a few more on the way in June’s MLB draft, the upcoming season is more about development than winning. Everyone in TigerTown is already looking to 2019 and beyond, for better or worse.

Now when’s draft day again?”

—Bless You Boys

Key Player

There are players more important to the Tigers’ short- and long-term success, but no one can change the organization’s entire outlook in one season like Daniel Norris. Formerly a top-20 prospect in all of baseball, his Tigers career has been marred by injuries and inconsistency. When healthy in 2016, Norris nearly led the Tigers to a Wild Card berth — he put up a 3.04 ERA and struck out nearly a batter per inning in August and September. While he threw more major league innings in ‘17, his command fell off and opposing hitters took advantage.

To get back to his impressive 2016 form, Norris needs to find the strike zone. He struggled with his command during his swift ascent through the Blue Jays’ farm system, but had only walked 29 batters in 19 starts with the Tigers heading into 2017. His raw stuff is good enough to get major league hitters out, and fielding-independent numbers suggest he was a lot better than last year’s 5.31 ERA. Detroit’s improved defense should help as well (though their lackluster offense won’t net him many wins).

Still only 24, Norris has just as much upside as he had when the Tigers acquired him at the trade deadline in 2015. He will have to fight for a spot in the rotation with fellow lefthanders Matt Boyd and Francisco Liriano, but a strong 2018 season could expedite the Tigers’ rebuild in a big way. Either he becomes a second pillar in Detroit’s rotation alongside Michael Fulmer, or a contender pays for Norris’ upside at the deadline with multiple prospects to further fill the Tigers’ coffers.

—Rob Rogacki, Bless You Boys

Best Case

The Tigers finished in last place in the AL Central in 2017 and last in the entire league as well, earning the top pick in the 2018 MLB draft. Like with the Giants, who finished with the second-worst record in the majors, this wasn’t part of a plan to tank — the Tigers were just awful enough to give up midseason by dealing veterans where they could, and everything fell further apart after that. They don’t have the upside they did entering 2017, not with J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton and Justin Verlander all gone, so a successful summer is going to involve Miguel Cabrera showing he’s still got something in the tank, and the young players the organization does have bringing hope for the future.

Worst Case

You know how Albert Pujols used to be amazing and signed a super long-term deal with the Angels and just wrapped up what was the worst-ever season for a 37-year-old position player but is still owed another $114 million over the next four years? Miguel Cabrera is three years younger, was much worse much sooner, and is owed another $184 million over the next six years. Now, Cabrera was his usual unearthly self as recently as 2016, and injuries hindered him last summer, but he’s also not getting any younger or more resilient. So, you know, the Tigers have that thread to pull on the next few years.