Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski focused on improving center field, bullpen
The Tigers were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Division Series earlier this month after finishing 90-72 and winning the A.L. Central.
Starting pitcher Max Scherzer and designated hitter Victor Martinez will be free agents this offseason. Martinez reportedly wants to return to the Tigers. Detroit's payroll included nearly $185 million in contracts, and Dombrowski said next season's team will also be expensive.
Detroit traded for starter David Price at the trade deadline, which will soften the blow of Scherzer potentially leaving as a free agent. The Tigers traded 27-year-old center fielder Austin Jackson in the Price trade. From Trister:
But the Tigers had to give up center fielder Austin Jackson to acquire Price, leaving the team to try Rajai Davis, Ezequiel Carrera and Don Kelly at center. Dombrowski says he'd be interested in a lefty-hitting center fielder who could platoon with Davis — or someone who might be able to play center full time.
The bullpen was inconsistent this season for Detroit. Of the five relievers who appeared in at least 40 games, only Al Alburqueque had an ERA below three. Dombrowski said Joe Nathan, who will turn 40 during the offseason, will enter the season as the closer, though if he doesn't perform well he could be stripped of his duties.
Nathan had 35 saves in his first season with Detroit with a 4.81 ERA.
Dombrowski said Joba Chamberlain was dealing with family issues during the season, which may have contributed to his 3.57 ERA. Detroit has a $7 million option on reliever Joakim Soria, whose season ended in August with an oblique strain.
- Paul Palladino