After finishing the 2013 season 93-69, the Detroit Tigers entered the postseason with high expectations. The Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics 3-2 in the ALDS, mainly in part to Justin Verlander‘s 15 innings of shut out baseball. After falling to the Boston Red Sox 4-2 in the ALCS, Dave Dombrowski and Mike Illitch were prepared to address crucial needs in hopes of giving the Tigers’ faithful the city’s first World Series victory since 1984.
Addressing issues of speed and pitching, the Tigers signed Rajai Davis from the Toronto Blue Jays in addition to closer Joe Nathan from the Texas Rangers. The Tigers also shed some weight at first base when they traded Prince Fielder for second basemen Ian Kinsler.
Those additions should pay dividends for the Tigers in the 2014 season, but there is one glaring problem; four integral pieces of the Tigers lineup are signed to just one year deals.
2013 AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer signed a one-year deal with the club earlier this month which avoided arbitration, but it added his name to a growing list of one-year contracts on the Tigers roster. Scherzer will surely want more money after next season after Clayton Kershaw signed a monstrous seven-year, $215 million deal to remain with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Other recently signed one-year contracts on the roster include catcher Alex Avila and outfielder Austin Jackson. Each of these players were signed in January, while the Tigers narrowly missed going to arbitration with Avila by less than 12 hours. The final piece of the puzzle that needs to be signed long term is shortstop Jose Iglesias, who is coming off a solid rookie season in which he finished second in overall voting to Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The money the Tigers saved after ridding the club of Fielder’s $214 million needs to be spent on resigning these players to long term deals, especially Scherzer. Avila, Jackson and Iglesias each serve a crucial role to the team and short contracts to avoid arbitration won’t cut it. While the Tigers may be all-in on winning in 2014, for sustainability and overall health of the franchise, the Tigers need to get these players on board long term.