Edson: If I Were Tigers GM, Here’s What I Would Do
There is no easy place to start when it comes to fixing the Detroit Tigers.
But here are some of the moves I would make if Chris Ilitch let me be general manager for a day (or more).
TRADE JUSTIN VERLANDER TO HOUSTON: Since the waiver/trade deadline is this week, I would work out a deal with the Houston Astros for veteran right hander Justin Verlander. Right now, the teams are playing a game of chicken. The Astros want Verlander badly. The Tigers are offering to pay for most of the remaining $56 million left on Verlander’s contract. So what’s the holdup? The Astros don’t want to give up a couple of top prospects. Tigers GM Al Avila learned the art of trading from the masterful Dave Dombrowski. Don’t be surprised either way on this one. The Astros might pass, but they could blink first this week and complete the trade.
BUY OUT THE LAST YEAR OF VICTOR MARTINEZ’S CONTRACT: This might be a moot point. Martinez has been put on the 10-day disabled list again with an irregular heartbeat. The 38-year-old veteran, who has one year left on his $18-million contract, might decide to simply retire. He has struggled all season and has too much pride to just go through the motions next year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he announced his retirement at the end of the season. But if he doesn’t, I would offer him a $5 million buyout and move on.
MOVE NICK CASTELLANOS TO THE OUTFIELD: This past weekend, ballplayers around the league wore uniforms with their nicknames on the back. The back of Castellano’s jersey should have read: “E-5.” In baseball terms, that means an error by the third baseman. Castellano’s is the worst fielding Tigers third baseman I’ve ever seen. I would move him to the outfield as soon as I could. He still has value and I truly believe he will develop into a solid .280 hitter with 25 home runs. But he has to be moved off from third base. The sooner, the better.
BE PATIENT WITH THE YOUNG PITCHERS: I understand why manager Brad Ausmus has gotten disgusted with the young Tigers starters. They don’t throw strikes and are inconsistent. But don’t panic. Young starting pitchers are a valuable item in the baseball world. So with the season in the tank anyway, go ahead and keep using all-star Michael Fuller, Matthew Boyd and the returning Daniel Norris. The Tigers have another three young starters in the minors who will reach Detroit within the next 2-3 years. Of those six, I think four of them will be keepers.
SAY GOODBYE TO BRAD AUSMUS: This wasn’t an easy conclusion to reach. But in the last few weeks I’ve seen signs that players are not responding to Ausmus anymore. I know he’s a good baseball man, but when the communication lines start to shrink and the players don’t seem to be responding, it’s time for a fresh voice in the clubhouse.
COUNT THE DAYS UNTIL THE 2018 OPENER: Hopefully, next spring we’ll see a refreshed Miguel Cabrera, who has struggled all season since hurting his back in the World Baseball Classic. With the addition of a new manager and the emergence of some bright, young pitching prospects, the Tigers will have a new – and hopefully winning – look to start 2018.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.