As many people in the baseball world know, the Tigers have a lot of money coming off the books. Dontrelle Willis, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Magglio Ordonez just to name a few.
The first half of the season showed us one of the best bullpens in the game powered by Phil Coke and Jose “Papa Grande” Valverde. Unfortunately, as good as they were in the first half, they were equally as bad in the second. It seemed as if no lead was safe. After Joel Zumaya went down, the team went down. So, I want to look at some of the options the Tigers have to fix the late inning problems.
TREVOR HOFFMAN: The all time saves leader is in an interesting predicament. He struggled in 2010 and ultimately lost his closing job to John Axford. It is unclear if Hoffman will retire or give it one more try. Much like Kenny Rogers did in 2006, he could mentor some of the younger pitchers. I would not offer anything more than a 1 year contract worth about $2MM with bonuses based on performance, but if he were to comeback, I think he would fit in well in Detroit.
RANDY CHOATE: Choate is considered a lefty specialist and that would definitely be his assignment regardless where he signs. It seems as if every great team has a reliever who specializes in lefties. If you think of the 2006 World Series bound Tigers, they had Jamie Walker fill this role who would be more or less of a one and done pitcher. Though important, this role is not one that you want to spend too much on and a 2 year deal worth $6.5MM would work just fine.
JOAQUIN BENOIT: Benoit was signed to a minor league contract last year by the Rays, but ended up with the MLB club and did great. He was a great set up man and perhaps one of the better available relievers around. I would offer something along the lines of 3 years and $11MM.
HEATH BELL: San Diego said this week that they would be willing to listen to offers for Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell. Heath Bell might not be as realistic as others, but is still worth talking about. Bell could fit in as a set up man in Detroit. I could only imagine, Verlander goes 7, Bell comes in for the 8th, and then Papa Grande closes it out. Game over. I would offer Ryan Strieby, Cale Iorg, and cash considerations or a player to be named later for Bell.
There are others that could possibly come to Detroit, but I think that these 4 are worth taking a chance on. I think that 1 or 2 of them would be perfect. Bullpen help is definitely a priority though.