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Earlier this offseason, it looked as if we might see not one, but two, AL Central clubs try to kick off the rebuilding process this year — with the Detroit Tigers hinting that they would potentially start unloading some of their best (and priciest) players alongside the Chicago White Sox.
Back in November, general manager Al Avila said the team was "open-minded" on all trade scenarios, including those involving Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera. Of course that didn’t happen, and the Tigers are set for another season with one of the highest payrolls in baseball, even though their window for contention seems to be barely cracked, if not already closed.
But the Tigers reportedly want the monster contracts that have defined them for the past several years to officially be a thing of the past as soon as possible, rather than a recurring trend. Avila told the Detroit Free Press yesterday that he wants to cut spending after this season: "Our situation, really, it’s a tough situation. Everybody’s looked at our payroll, and it’s over $200 million. This will be the second year we’re going over the luxury tax; we certainly are not going to go over the luxury tax for a third year."
That’s not at all surprising (the new collective bargaining agreement has harsher penalties for teams over the luxury tax), but it’s also much easier said than done. J.D. Martinez, Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey will become free agents for 2018, along with a few others. But the biggest culprits here — Verlander and Cabrera—are under contract until 2020 and 2024, respectively. Throw in the pricy contracts of Victor Martinez (set until 2019) and Justin Upton (2022), and it’s really not a pretty picture. With this set of albatrosses around their neck for a while yet, major changes in the composition of the team are still a ways off. But changes in front office strategy and intention look like they might be coming soon.
- Over at ESPN, Keith Law has released his top 100 prospects—including Andrew Benintendi in the No. 1 spot and a whopping five New York Yankees prospects among the top 50.
- Here’s a way to make this year’s boring free agent class a little more interesting: Figure out how much splashy free-agent signings of yesteryear could make if they were on the market now. Grant Brisbee tackles the question.
- The San Francisco Giants have already tried to beef up their bullpen this winter, but they may not be done yet. Grabbing another lefty free agent could be a smart move.
- The Cubs, simply put, are stacked. As far as problems go, this is a pretty nice one — having too many talented players and not enough playing time to go around. But it requires a solution nonetheless, and that solution could be the supersub.
- Jedd Gyorko and Jhonny Peralta are both difficult to predict. So which of them will the St. Louis Cardinals play at third base next season?
- Back in 1999, Sports Illustrated proclaimed the New York Mets infield the best ever. Were they right? Amazin’ Avenue does some analysis today.
- The 2019 All-Star Game officially will take place in Cleveland.
- Voting is now open for the SABR Analytics Awards! You can cast your ballot for the best baseball analysis of 2016 here on Beyond the Box Score.