-- Tom, Oregon, Ohio
I don't write off the idea that the Tigers could listen to interest in Cabrera at this point. If there's a chance to land a bevy of young talent that gives the team a better chance to win now and later, it makes sense to listen, given the situation. As one industry observer said, with a team that talented that didn't win, it doesn't make sense to have several untouchables. Still, listening and pursuing are two different things, and a few reasons make a deal unlikely.
First, Cabrera's contract dramatically reduces the number of teams that could take on such a deal, and of those clubs, there aren't many needing a first baseman. Boston fits the situation, given its rumored interest in San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez, but its strength is young pitching rather than young hitting. And without a number of other teams, it's difficult to drive up the market. That's what makes players such as Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson more realistic targets.
The Tigers, ironically, might be better situated to handle Cabrera's contract than several other teams. Yes, $20 million would be a huge number to take off the payroll, but the teeth of the deal really comes in the five years beyond 2010, after the club loses more than $50 million and as much as $60 million in contracts. The only players currently under contract beyond 2011 are Cabrera and Granderson, though the Tigers would like to have Justin Verlander signed long term, too.
The other factor is that for all the economic issues surrounding Detroit and the organization -- and those troubles affect owner Mike Ilitch like everyone else -- the fact remains that Ilitch likes star players on his team. He demonstrated it with the Red Wings and Steve Yzerman, and with the Tigers and Ivan Rodriguez. Ilitch pushed to acquire Cabrera two winters ago to add a young star hitter to the lineup. To trade him after two years and no postseason berths would essentially be an admission that the trade was a mistake.
What are the Tigers' options for the back end of the starting rotation? Is it likely to be in-house options only or could there be free-agent veterans such as Randy Wolf from the Dodgers?
-- Jacob P., Toledo, Ohio
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Unless the Tigers get a Major League-ready young starter in a trade, which is very possible, the rotation will be filled in-house. Jeremy Bonderman will be back as a starter as long as he's healthy, while Armando Galarraga and Nate Robertson will be trying to show they're back.
Jason, I know you may think this sounds ridiculous, but would it be possible for the Tigers to trade Cabrera for Roy Halladay? I know this will never happen, but it WOULD make the Tigers a better team.
-- Bobby J., Romulus, Mich.
I think you just answered your own question.
What do you see GM Dave Dombrowski and the front-office staff doing with Justin Verlander this year? Since he is eligible for free agency in two years, do you lock him up for three or four years or let New York or Boston "woo" him? Thanks.
-- Rachel G., Fenton, Mich.
If the Tigers are going to sign Verlander long term, this is the time to do it. The baseball marketplace has changed a lot in the past couple years, but a pitcher who's just a year away from free agency very rarely passes that up for a new contract. Dombrowski has said more than once this offseason that he wants Verlander to be a Tigers pitcher for a long time.
The flip side of that, of course, is that Verlander has to want to sign. It'll take a lot of money, no doubt, but as trade rumors and discussions swirl around this team, a big consideration should be to give Verlander a chance to win in Detroit. He's an intense competitor, as everyone in Detroit knows. Clearing a ton of payroll and talent to try to sign Verlander long term defeats the purpose.
I attended an Erie SeaWolves game, where Wilkin Ramirez played third base for that game. He looked great over there. Why not turn him into that with all of the outfielders we have?
-- Ken V., Erie, Pa.
I think you're referring to 2008, when Ramirez played two games at third base at Erie. He started his pro career at third, but committed 69 errors in 170 games there over three seasons before the Tigers moved him to the outfield.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.