The Tigers spent the last week trading away the rest of 2015 for something resembling a future. If you’re just catching up, I had plenty of good things to say about the strategy. Not only did they restock the farm system, they added players who are relatively close to the majors, giving them a shot to contend in the near future.
It is absolutely too early to really figure out how good the 2016 team will be or what players they will have a chance to acquire, but I wanted to look at where the roster stands as it is right now. Players will get hurt, guys will get better and worse, and all kinds of things will happen. This is a snapshot to give us an idea of where the team needs to go. That’s all.
Below, I’ve gone through the roster and identified players who I would consider safe bets to make the roster, along with their 2016 salary and my rough estimate of their 2016 WAR.
So the Tigers need a new left fielder, they need to decide if Anthony Gose is going to be their CF or if they need a new one, and then the bench needs to be sorted out. They have candidates for all of those jobs, but no one is safe. They have four starters who are reasonably safe bets and then maybe Alex Wilson as the only reliever with a secure job. Realistically, Rondon, Alburquerque, and the others will have roles, but I wanted to outline the players who would definitely make the team if 2016 was starting next month.
Obviously, the Tigers could trade any of these players, people could get hurt, etc, but this is where the roster stands. We can safely assume a payroll of around $170M, so that’s $50 million to use to acquire something like 10-12 wins (Note: Tigers owe Fielder $6M in 2016 as well). A replacement level team (all zero WAR players) would still win about 48 games, and that leaves a 32 WAR team around 80 wins. Getting to the 90-92 range requires some additions, but there are lots of ways to go. Let’s say you can get a total of 2 WAR from the bullpen outside of Wilson, that means you need a 4 WAR starter, a 3 WAR outfielder, a 2 WAR outfielders, and then 1 WAR from the bench.
These are all just rough estimates, but those are relatively workable acquisitions. The Tigers need to acquire one good starter, a quality outfielder, and then some players who can fill various roles. The hardest part will be the bullpen because the Tigers don’t have a great history and because you need to acquire an excess of relievers at the start to get a good product at the end. As we approach the winter, I’ll identify specific players I’d target, but this gives us a good idea of where the team stands. Guys like Moya, Collins, and Romine can contribute, but you probably don’t want to plan your season around high expectations for them.
I estimated the specific numbers, but I think they are fair estimates. Everyone is talking about the window closing, but the Tigers have the resources to stay competitive at least into 2016 as long as they don’t wind up getting overly tagged by injuries. Picking up two close to MLB ready starters this week went a long way to keeping this club competitive into the future.