What will Dombrowski shop for at winter meetings?

What will Dombrowski shop for at winter meetings?

Published Dec. 8, 2014 6:25 p.m. ET

It's Black Monday for baseball's general managers, and Tigers fans are hoping that Dave Dombrowski is going to buy them something nice for Christmas.

Dombrowski, though, wasn't about to tip his hand as the winter meetings began in San Diego. Whether he has a quiet four days planned or if he's going to spend huge amounts of Mike Ilitch's money, one thing remains true -- he's not going to let anyone know until he's ready. 

That's been the case throughout his tenure in Detroit, which is why media reports about Detroit's moves, especially those coming from anonymous sources, are so often wrong. Few people in the game are as good as keeping their cards close to the vest as Dombrowski, and in the long run, that seems to have worked fairly well for the Tigers.

But without any inside information, it is still possible to figure what Dombrowski will be shopping for this week, and to contemplate a few surprises he might have up his sleeve.


Detroit's most obvious need is a corner outfielder. J.D. Martinez will start at one corner position, and a platoon of Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose will handle centerfield, but the departure of Torii Hunter leaves a hole. 

Tyler Collins and Steven Moya are the candidates inside the system, but Collins probably needs another season in Triple-A, and Moya spent last season in Erie, so they are probably better options for 2016 and beyond.

That leaves a free agent or a trade. There have been numerous reports, including one by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, that the Tigers have gotten numerous calls about David Price and Rick Porcello. It isn't surprising that teams would want them -- high-quality starting pitching is hard to get -- and Dombrowski is facing the same situation he was in a year ago. Both pitchers will be free agents after next season, and could leave Detroit without bringing any return, much like Max Scherzer might do.

One persistent rumor is that Boston is offering the spectacular talents of Yoenis Cespedes for Porcello. Cespedes would certainly finish up Detroit's outfield, but he's an all-or-nothing hitter that never walks, and isn't likely to age well. 

That move, or any trade of Price or Porcello, would also put a hole into the team's biggest strength - a rotation that also includes Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Shane Greene. Moving Price or Porcello would mean going into the season with Greene, who has only been a major-league rotation for half of a season, as well as someone with even less experience like Kyle Lobstein. That's a risky idea for a team that intends to be playing for a World Series this season, especially with Sanchez spending time on the disabled list in each of the last two years.

Unfortunately for Dombrowski, the cupboard is bare when it comes to his favorite move -- trading prospects for major-league players. He's used it so often in recent years that there's nothing left to move in exchange for an outfielder would be a definite solid addition to the lineup.

The more likely scenario is that Dombrowski will pick up a mid-level free agent -- someone like Nori Aoki or Melky Cabrera -- and give Collins a chance to earn a lineup spot, much like Martinez did last year.

The Tigers will also be looking at middle relievers, especially ones that can throw with their left hand. Dombrowski plans to have Joe Nathan, Joakim Soria, Al Alburquerque and, hopefully, Bruce Rondon in the back end of the bullpen, but he has acknowledged that he needs to fill out the rest of the group after last year's disaster.