Detroit Tigers: Sports Illustrated Review of the 2016-17 Off-season

Sep 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. The Tigers won 9-5. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

As the Detroit Tigers arrive in Lakeland in the next few days, there will be one thing that they all notice: not much has changed.

The Detroit Tigers look nearly the same as they did at the end of the 2016 season. Only Cameron Maybin is gone and Alex Avila is back. A few other free agent have yet to be signed, but otherwise, not much has changed.

As old friends reunite in Lakeland, will the lack of off-season drama help the team? Or hurt the team?

Like many other media outlets, Sports Illustrated took a good look at the off-season of every team. The author, Jeremy Fuchs, questioned whether the Detroit Tigers moves were in the best interest of the team. And he wasn’t happy with the moves that were made.

In fact, he gave the Tigers a D.

The reasoning: the Cleveland Indians improved, so the Tigers should have, too. By adding Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians took a solid step forward. By releasing Cameron Maybin and not replacing him, the Tigers took a big step backward. Fuchs called the Tigers centerfield problem “a gaping hole on the roster.” And, he is right in his assessment.

Redundancies in the Infield

Interestingly, Fuchs did comment on the minor league signing of Omar Infante. While many think that the Infante signing was a non-issue, Fuchs thinks that Infante could be the guy who takes over where Erick Aybar left off as a utility infielder. Nevermind that Andrew Romine is back and that the Tigers still have middle infielders JaCoby Jones and Dixon Machado working hard for spots in Detroit. Infante seems like a redundancy – unless he can play CF (and we all know that’s not happening).

Lack of Options for the Outfield

What Fuchs does recognize was that the options for CF were limited and expensive. It’s difficult to fault the Tigers for not picking up Dexter Fowler (who got over $80 million with the St. Louis Cardinals) when they already have several albatross contracts. The Tigers already tested the waters with Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson. And even though Al Avila re-signed two former Tigers, he didn’t seem ready to bring back the whole band. The rest of the options like Coco Crisp and Michael Bourn were too old for a team that is rumored to be rebuilding in the next few years.

It is easy to agree with Fuchs. The Tigers needed to sign a center fielder. Avila went with Mikie Mahtook, who doesn’t inspire much confidence. Avila also got a minimal return for Maybin in minor league pitcher Victor Alcantara. And, he signed his son. For a fan base that is used to big off-season moves, this was one boring off-season.

But, on the positive side, Avila did not trade away the veterans and he did not trade away the farm. These are good non-moves. Fuchs’ grade of a D might be a little harsh. I’m going with a C-, simply because of who is still on the team rather than who isn’t on the team.

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