MLB

Detroit Tigers: Why the Tigers are winning the offseason

While teams like the Dodgers are signing two players for nearly a billion dollars and trading for a third Cy Young candidate in the same rotation, and the Yankees are trading hauls for Juan Soto, the Tigers very well could claim they’re winning the off-season. The Detroit Tigers finished 78-84 second place in the American League Central behind the Twins.

While the Detroit Tigers lost Eduardo Rodriguez who was the Ace of the Tigers rotation sporting a career low 3.30 ERA and a 13-9 record. In replacing Rodriguez, the Tigers signed Jack Flaherty to a one year 14-million-dollar contract. While Flaherty had a disappointing 2023 season that saw him moved to the bullpen after a 8-9 record and a 4.99 era he has one factor that is massive for the Tigers. Last season Flaherty pitched 144.1 innings that will mirror the production they got from Rodriguez and will bring the Detroit Tigers upside. Should Flaherty return to his 2019 and 2021 form the Tigers will have a potential Cy Young candidate in their rotation.

Adding innings also will be the newest piece of the Detroit Tigers rotation Kenta Maeda who signed with the Tigers on a two year 24-million-dollar contract. Maeda came off of a season he didn’t pitch due to injury in 2022 and pitched 104 innings with a 4.31 ERA. The signing of Maeda is a high upside low risk move just like Flaherty’s. Regardless of result penciling in 100+ innings from both Flaherty and Maeda will be massive for a young up and coming rotation like the Tigers.

The Detroit Tigers will need innings covered by veterans as players like Casey Mize make their returns from injury. Casey Mize was the first overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations yet. Mize has a career record of 7-13 with a 4.29 era in 39 starts, 2024 will be a make or break season as Mize returns from Tommy John surgery to a Tigers team looking to compete for the AL Central.

The Detroit Tigers had only two players with OPS’ around the .800 mark after Kerry Carpenter and Riley Greene the only player near the mark was Spencer Torkelson. The Tigers added a consistent hitter in Mark Canha via trade, Canha hit .262 with a .755 OPS in 2023. Adding Canha will give the Tigers a solid outfield in Canha, Riley Greene, and Kerry Carpenter.

The Tigers ranked middle of the pack in bullpen ERA in 2023 with a 4.16 ERA. The Tigers brought back journey man reliever Andrew Chafin for a second stint in Detroit, coming off a rocky season in 2023 where he had a 4.73 era between Arizona and Milwaukee. Chafin was dominant for the Tigers in 2022 with a 2.83 ERA in 64 games for the Tigers, should he return to his 2022 form it will be an absolute bargain for the Tigers. The other bullpen addition is a sleeper in Shelby Miller who was signed on a one year three-million-dollar deal with a club option for 2025. If Miller pitches anything like he did in 2023 it will be an absolute steal for the Tigers as Miller had a 1.71 ERA in 42 innings with the Dodgers.

While the Detroit Tigers aren’t making flashy signings that will turn everyone’s heads they’re making smart additions and improving in areas of weaknesses. The Tigers don’t have to make up a lot of ground especially as the Twins have had a rough off-season. The Twins have lost two key starters in Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda and haven’t made many moves to replace them. While the Twins have the pitching depth to fill in innings losing a pitcher the quality of Gray will hurt any organization. The 2024 season could be the year of Tiger and see Detroit return to the playoffs in the post Miguel Cabrera era.