Dave Dombrowski made the right call to not pursue signing free agent Shin-Soo Choo this offseason.
The Tigers have been plagued by lack of production from the outfield positions, especially in center and left field. Last offseason, Torii Hunter signed a free agent deal to play right field and added some much needed production there last season.
Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks are back for the Tigers in center and left field respectively, but neither had great numbers last season. Jackson had the best numbers, hitting .272 last year, but he also struck out 129 times which is way too high for a leadoff hitter.
Dombrowski went out and signed free agent Rajai Davis to a two-year, $10-million deal to platoon with Dirks in left, but he is not considered to be a long term fix.
Choo was considered to be a possibility as a long term solution, but the Tigers made the right choice and decided against signing him.
Choo is a very good player, but paying $130 million over seven years for the 31-year-old would not have been smart for the Tigers. With the .423 on base percentage that Choo had last year, he would have been a significant upgrade over Jackson in the leadoff spot, but giving a seven-year deal to a player north of 30 just wouldn’t be economically smart, especially the Tigers.
The Tigers have the money to sign a player like Choo after trading Prince Fielder to the Rangers, but spending that money on re-signing Max Scherzer, who is set to be a free agent at the end of the up coming season, would be a much better idea.
Signing Choo would have also blocked the Tigers’ prospects. Over the years, the Tigers have traded many of their top prospects to get players that were ready at that moment. Some of the players traded have been Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Jacob Turner and most recently Avisail Garcia. Now, the Tigers look to be focusing on rebuilding their young talent which is evident in their trade for Robbie Ray.
The Tigers have a pair of outfield prospects that are candidates to make their big league debuts this year in Daniel Fields and Tyler Collins. Both players spent the 2013 season playing for the Erie SeaWolves of the Double A Eastern League. Fields is considered to be the better prospect of the two and is on the 40-man roster. He hit .284 with 10 home runs, 58 RBI and 24 stolen bases in 457 at bats last year. Collins hit .240 with 21 home runs and 79 RBI in 466 at bats last year and spent the fall playing in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .260.
As of right now, it looks like the Tigers are going to go with an outfield of Hunter in right, Jackson in center and a platoon of Dirks and Davis in left with Don Kelly providing depth at all the positions.