The Tigers Don’t Need Stephen Drew

Over the last few years, we’ve seen several players with stalled markets become the beneficiary of an unexpected serious injury. Prince Fielder failed to generate interest at the price that he was asking until Victor Martinez blew out his knee and the Tigers suddenly had an opening in their line-up. Ervin Santana apparently wasn’t all that interested in playing in Baltimore or Toronto, so Kris Medlen‘s elbow problems led him to Atlanta. One team’s needs in November and December might not be the same as their needs in February or March, and while players who sign late generally get less money than players who sign early, needs can develop that increase demand for a player closer to Opening Day.

So, naturally, when news broke on Saturday that Jose Iglesias was going to miss at least four months and maybe the entire season, all eyes turned to Stephen Drew. He’s the only free agent SS of substance left on the market, a solid contributor who held down the position for the defending World Champs a year ago and would perhaps even be an upgrade over Iglesias for the 2014 season. Drew’s market has been essentially non-existent at the price that Scott Boras is asking for, but the Tigers make all kinds of sense for Drew.

They’re a contender with a sudden need for a shortstop, they pick towards the end of the first round, they’ve historically been willing to give up draft picks to sign free agents, and they’re a strong contender with a real shot at winning the World Series. Once Iglesias’ injury became known, the general assumption is that Drew would be in camp with the Tigers within a few days. Except the obvious fit isn’t such an obvious fit for Dave Dombrowski, who has reportedly suggested to local media that he will not pursue Drew as a replacement for Iglesias. And in this instance, I think he’s entirely correct: the Tigers do not need Stephen Drew.

This isn’t because I believe strongly in the value of Hernan Perez, Don Kelly, or Eugenio Suarez. The Tigers internal solutions for replacing Iglesias essentially define replacement level, as none of them should be expected to hit at all and none makes up for it with Iglesias-style defense. If pressed into action, they will look like utility players being asked to carry a load above their pay grade, and the Tigers will see a real drop-off in value at shortstop.

It isn’t a question of whether or not Drew is better than the Tigers’ existing options; he is, unquestionably. But adding Drew isn’t simply as easy as “he’s an upgrade, so let’s sign him”, because the marginal impact of adding Drew now versus waiting a few months to collect some information simply isn’t likely to move the Tigers odds of reaching the postseason much at all.

The math is the easy part. Drew projects as roughly a two win player for 2014, and would keep them around a forecast level of 90 wins, which is where they were pre-Iglesias injury; without either, they’re probably closer to an 88 win team. But the question the Tigers are asking isn’t really Drew versus full season performances of a replacement level player, or players. There’s no reason to think that signing Drew will be their only chance to upgrade the position this year, and even if teams aren’t selling shortstops before the All-Star break that often, the lost value between signing Drew now and waiting until the summer to evaluate their options is likely to cost them roughly one win.

At that point, they may still very well be able to sign Drew himself, and his cost of acquisition will come down once the draft pick compensation no longer attaches in mid-June. If the Tigers think that Boras is serious about holding Drew out until after the draft if he doesn’t get an offer to their liking, then it is quite possible that the Tigers could simply sign Drew for the final 3 1/2 months of the season without surrendering the 23rd pick in the draft, and the lost value that comes with not having him for April and May would be of little impact on the team’s overall expected record.

Or, other options may very well present themselves. The Tigers have not said that Iglesias is out for the year, and they should have a better understanding of his ability to return for the stretch run by mid-summer. If Iglesias’ legs heal, the need to acquire a full-time shortstop diminishes greatly, and they could simply turn towards acquiring a stop-gap type who would give them insurance in case Iglesias got hurt again. A guy like Cliff Pennington might be more useful than a guy like Drew if Iglesias looks like he could play again in 2014.

And even if Iglesias is out for the year, well, the Tigers still don’t really need Drew that badly. As we’ve noted before, no team has a larger cushion in their division than the Tigers in the AL Central; the Indians are projected as the second best AL Central team with an expected record of 83-79. The Royals, who are seen as an up-and-coming challenger, project as a .500 team, according to our calculations. Even knocking the Tigers down by a win or two, they’re still going to be the prohibitive favorites to win that division. The rest of their roster is so good that they can run away from Cleveland and Kansas City even with Hernan Perez starting at shortstop.

The Tigers shouldn’t go into August with Perez, Kelly, or Suarez as their regular SS for the stretch run, but not signing Drew now doesn’t mean that is the alternative. There will be shortstops available in trade this summer. Iglesias might be able to come back for the postseason. Drew could still be a free agent in a few months, only without the draft pick tax in place. The Tigers are not choosing between a full year of Drew and a full year of Scrubby McScrubberson. For right now, the choice is what they should pay for a shortstop for the next few months of the season. Given their cushion in the division and the limited marginal difference between a few months of an average player and a replacement level player, they can afford to sit around and collect more information.

It’s an unfortunate injury for Detroit, but they aren’t the Braves. They don’t need every last marginal upgrade in order to keep up with a team like Washington. The mediocrity of the AL Central gives them flexibility, and Dave Dombrowski is right to use it. If the kids can’t hack it, they can adjust, but there simply isn’t that much to lose by telling Drew that they may or may not have interest in a few months if he wants to wait until after the draft to sign.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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ettin
Guest
ettin
2 years 2 months ago

There are also potential other options. The Angels for instance have John McDonald and Andrew Romine and only one of them is likely to make the team out of Spring Training. Both are defensive minded SS’s, not unlike Iglesias, and I’m sure the Angels would trade the one they don’t keep on the big league club through a trade for a low-level Minor League prospect?

Alex Andreopoulos
Guest
Alex Andreopoulos
2 years 2 months ago

John Mcdonald is only worth a small amount of cash in a trade. Very small amount.

IHateJoeBuck
Member
IHateJoeBuck
2 years 2 months ago

Is Don Kelly really an option at SS? I thought he would be used as the left-handed side of the LF platoon with Davis. He hasn’t played SS at the major league level since 2007. Plus, he’s Don Kelly.

WhatLeylandNoooo
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

I think he meant Steve Lombardozzi but I can see how he would make that mistake.

IHateJoeBuck
Member
IHateJoeBuck
2 years 2 months ago

Is Steve Lombardozzi really an option at SS? I thought he would be used as the utility player and right-handed bench bat. He has 18 major league innings at SS. Plus, he’s Steve Lombardozzi.

The point still stands. I don’t want to see Stephen Drew in Detroit, pretty much because of all the reasons Dave stated above. I really just wanted to talk about Don Kelly more and it gave me an excuse to listen to Jim Price’s “Donnie Kelly Baby!”

Tak
Member
Tak
2 years 2 months ago

Lombardozzi has been seeing time at short. This was planned during the offseason because the original goal was to have Lombardozzi as Iglesias’ backup during the season.

Danny Worth
Guest
Danny Worth
2 years 2 months ago

He meant me

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
2 years 2 months ago

I agree that they don’t need him, but I don’t think it’s so black and white.

Drew might project as 2 WAR, but the projections don’t always know how to handle injuries. He put up almost 5 WAR in 2010. He was on pace for about 3 WAR in 2011 before getting hurt. He put up 3.4 WAR last year, in 124 games. Yes, he missed half of 2011 and sucked in 2012 – this can’t be ignored – but the Fans project him for 3.1 WAR this year, which doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

The Tigers were picked as the division winner by every single writer at Fangraphs last year (that was the only division that everybody agreed on). According to pre-season WAR, they were projected to win 14 more games than Chicago/KC, 19 more games than Cleveland, and 24 more games than Minnesota. By all accounts, they were going to cruise to the division title. They won the division by 1 game.

If you simulate the season several times, it doesn’t make sense to sign Drew. But this team only has one shot at it, and I wouldn’t blame them for spending the money to improve their team. Maybe it’ll be the difference between winning the division by a dozen games instead of 9-10 games, or maybe it’ll be the difference between winning the division by a hair instead of sitting at home in October.

Ian R.
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

To be fair, the Tigers clinched their division four or five games before the season ended last year (I forget exactly when). They wrapped up the season losing several games that didn’t matter. That one-game lead is a little misleading.

I see your larger point, though. The Tigers may not have been hurt too badly by this one injury, but projections are projections, and there’s enough variance where they can’t just assume they’re going to win the Central and sit on their laurels. There’s always the possibility, if nothing else, of another injury, and they could end up with two (or more) holes to fill after missing the opportunity to plug one with Drew.

briney212
Guest
briney212
2 years 2 months ago

You’re right in the fact that the Tigers didn’t clinch as early in the season as most thought, but a lot of that can be put up to Miggy looking like 1/10 his normal self the last month and a half or so of the season, Prince was also struggling a little as well. It’s injuries to the Miggy’s that hurt offensive minded clubs like the Tigers, not the injuries to the Iglesias’. I don’t think they’re panicking too much.

Baltar
Guest
Baltar
2 years 2 months ago

You are 100% correct Ian. A five-game difference in projected wins for a whole season is nothing. Teams are regularly more than that far from their projections,and the Tigers would only have to lose 3 more games and the Indians win 3 more to beat the Tigers. That’s less than a 2% change out of 162 games for each team.
That does not necessarily mean that Drew is the right solution, but the argument that Detroit doesn’t need to improve because they’re sure to win the division anyway is ludicrous.

The Stranger
Member
2 years 2 months ago

Agreed. While it’s certainly true that there are other options at SS aside from Drew, I don’t think there’s any team in baseball that is such a lock for the postseason that the marginal value for more wins is low – and fielding the best possible team once you make the postseason is also valuable. Drew almost certainly makes the Tigers better, and that has value. Maybe they don’t *need* him, and maybe he’s not available at a reasonable price, but they should at least be kicking the tires.

Sam
Guest
Sam
2 years 2 months ago

I don’t know that there are other real options. The Cardinals tried to fill their black hole at shortstop all year last year and ended up striking out as teams asked for Carlos Martinez in exchange for Alexei Ramirez or Erick Aybar.

Hawk Harrelson
Guest
Hawk Harrelson
2 years 2 months ago

Yeah, Drew is flat out better than Iglesias when he’s healthy. That has to be taken into account.

WalksareWorthless
Guest
WalksareWorthless
2 years 2 months ago

One of the biggest things we learned last year was that teams with the least amount of terrible players did the best. The Red Sox didn’t really have anyone that was terrible, meanwhile the Cardinals sent Descalso and Freese to the plate almost as often as they did Holliday or Beltran. You can’t choose who hits, even if there are two on and two out. It isn’t as simple as War wins, the better you are 1-9 the more runs you score and games you win. This is jst the kind of edge that could send the Indians or Royals to the Postseason this year.

BMarkham
Guest
BMarkham
2 years 2 months ago

That’s one of the biggest things we learned?? The Cardinals went to World Series, tied for most wins with the second best run differential in baseball WITH Kozma and Descalso at SS, in a competitive division. THAT is proof that the Tigers don’t need Drew.

The Tigers are still way better than the Royals and the Indians.

BMarkham
Guest
BMarkham
2 years 2 months ago

Last season the Tiger’s win-loss record was way worst than their peripherals, while the opposite was true of the Royals and Indians. And they still won.

The Tigers 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order wins were 99.1, 106.3, and 104.5.
The Indians were 89.9, 87.1, and 86.6.
The Royals were 86.5, 79.1, and 79.4.

The Indians and Royals got very lucky while the Tigers were very unlucky, and the Tigers still won the division. The Tigers were actually the most unlucky team in baseball in 2013. Sure, the Tigers could be even more unlucky this year, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Robert Hombre
Guest
Robert Hombre
2 years 2 months ago

Who’s Detroit going to give up in a trade? It sounds snarky, but the Tigers’ farm system is primarily Castellanos, with everyone else being an afterthought. Trading Castellanos, of course, would be problematic.

Unless they’re into trading Robbie Ray, who apparently has substantially more value to the Tigers than any other team. It’d be an interesting use of Fister, to be certain.

The Indians would actually be ideal trade partners, probably – Asdrubal’s contract is far more palatable for the Tigers than Indians, and there’s also a certain Shortstop in the Indians system who’ll be taking the job a year from now. The Tigers wouldn’t need to give up much at all. This would make them ideal trade partners, were it not for the obvious boundary.

It’s just not clear how a deadline trade for an average player (assuming 1 WAR for the rest of the season) could even happen – or, on the other hand, why the Tigers would give up anything for a below-average player (.5 WAR for the remainder of the season).

If the Tigers really are 5 WAR better than the division (and they are!), no midseason trade they could pull off would substantially change their fortunes. No, I suspect the midseason Drew signing is the only move that would make any sense for Los Tigres.

Ivan Grushenko
Guest
Ivan Grushenko
2 years 2 months ago

Tigers don’t have much, but Cliff Pennington shouldn’t cost much either. If they’re trading for a real SS, they could always include Iglesias in a 3 way.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
Cool Lester Smooth
2 years 2 months ago

No one will be willing to replace a starting caliber SS with an injured Iglesias, especially considering that the injury may affect his defense going forward, and Iglesias doesn’t have any other skills.

The Party Bird
Guest
The Party Bird
2 years 2 months ago

The boundary didn’t stop the Indians from trading a different shortstop to Detroit (although I guess Jhonny Peralta was playing a lot of third at the time).

esolney33
Member
Member
esolney33
2 years 2 months ago

Detroit has less cushion than that, IMO. Primariy b/c (1) FG has them getting 3 wins from catcher, but I would not put my money on Alex Avila and crew for 3 wins; (2) at some point before he enters the nursing home, Hunter will no longer be worth 2 wins; (3) Anibal’s arm is already barking and FG has him at 195 innings and 4.2 wins; (4) the bullpen is tenuous from top to bottom – would it surprise anyone if Nathan went down, and Rondon, Alburquerque and Joba blow up? Those four guys are responsible for all 3 wins projected for this bullpen.

Accounting for the above I think the Tigers project to more like 86-87 wins, and I also think the Royals are more like an 84 win team with upside in the young arms.

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Bottom line is price, as always with Boras clients. If Drew’s price comes down to the $7M to $8M range he’d prob have multiple offers to choose from. If Drew/Boras refuse to come down from the ridiculous $14M per, then he’ll prob be w/o a team this year. It isn’t really that complicated as a 1,000 word essay makes it seem.

Ivan Grushenko
Guest
Ivan Grushenko
2 years 2 months ago

If Drew’s price would come down to 1 year $12M that would probably be enough for the Tigers to sign him. I really don’t see the Tigers worrying about a couple of million dollars or a late first rounder when they could solidify a position of glaring need.

briney212
Guest
briney212
2 years 2 months ago

I’m not sure I agree. I don’t think replacing a defensive minded shortstop who is currently making league minimum with essentially a $12M version of him with draft pick compensation attached is a very smart baseball decision. Especially when there are, as others have mentioned, numerous glove first shortstops that could come at a much cheaper cost. (Mcdonald/Romine, Kozma, Barney, ETC.)

Ivan Grushenko
Guest
Ivan Grushenko
2 years 2 months ago

They’re all replacement level. Drew is not.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

In what world is Drew a version of Iglesias?

Stephen Drew is an average to above average hitter. Jose Iglesias is not a replacement level hitter.

briney212
Guest
briney212
2 years 2 months ago

i’m not saying Drew isn’t better, but in my opinion it’s marginal, and paying probably about 12x the price to get Stephen Drew over, like a Darwin Barney or some other .240-.260, 6-10 Hr guy seems unnecessary. Would Drew’s 4-5 more homers be worth what could cost an extra $12M?

Simon
Guest
Simon
2 years 2 months ago

Pretty sure there are ways of quantifying the expected difference between Stephen Drew and a replacement level shortstop nowadays.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 2 months ago

Not, the homers wouldn’t be.

The other 2WAR he produces above Iglesias would be.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 2 months ago

Where do you read that Drew/Boras has been asking for 14 million per year?

From what I’ve read. The Mets are not interested in a multi-year contract for Drew, which is what Boras appears to be asking for.

http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/scott-boras-teams-weak-at-shortstop-owe-it-to-fans-to-sign-his-client-stephen-drew-1.7393579

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/mets/mets-cautious-searching-ss-article-1.1719922

http://nypost.com/2014/03/14/drew-unlikely-to-be-mets-answer-at-shortstop/

This is just speculation, but I would assume that a 3/27 with playing incentives pushing to 3/33 would be do-able for both sides, if the mets were interested in something more than a one year contract.

LaLoosh
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

and I think if the Mets could have gotten a deal near 3/27M they would have already. touché. not that the Mets are run logically, but a 1 year deal makes no sense at all for them anyway. i just don’t think they see it as money wisely spent since Drew doesn’t get them into contention no matter what Alderson says about “90 wins.” The “real reality” is that money is very tight there.

Aside from that, when Boras/Drew drop their price and do a deal then I’ll believe it. I think there is a real concern over possible effort if Drew has to play for an amount that’s considerably less than he set out to sign for. I think the baseball community would prefer to see the dedication Drew has to his sport and be on a baseball field right now rather than hold out for an amount that ostensibly isn’t there. Sometimes you win these things and get the pot of gold and sometimes it does’t work out; that’s how the open market works.

JasonBVT
Guest
JasonBVT
2 years 2 months ago

Something that popped into my head during the morning commute is a creative way to sign Drew. The Patriots did this with Darelle Revis a week ago: sign Drew for 1yr/$10M, but have a team option at 1yr/$25M. AAV is $12M, but they can’t make a QO if they decline the option. Drew has to “bet on himself” again, but for 2015 isn’t tied to a lost draft pick. The Tigers get a 3 Win SS for the season (the 2 win projection is just wrong). They lose a draft pick, but that’s not a big deal for them.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 2 months ago

(A) A 1/25 option? That would be a certainty to be declined. Did you mean 1/15?

(B) 2 WAR is not “certainly” wrong if you think 3 WAR is the “correct” projection. That’s only 1 WAR difference, WELL within the margin of error for any particular player. Trying to hit the number right on the head, +/- 0.0, is trying to put too fine a point on it. 2 WAR may be a slightly conservative projection, but is reasonable given Drew’s injury history. 3 WAR is more optimistic and is also perfectly reasonable.

JasonBVT
Guest
JasonBVT
2 years 2 months ago

(A) 1/25. The point is that it’s guaranteed to be declined because it’s so expensive. Drew signs for less this season because he’s guaranteed to be not tagged with a QO next offseason.
(B) I think 3 WAR is his floor over a full season.

Kogoruhn
Member
Kogoruhn
2 years 2 months ago

The Tigers can just decline the option and offer the QO. There is nothing in the CBA preventing a team from offering the QO if they declined a team option.

Frank
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

The Tigers don’t need Stephen Drew. The Tigers are a strong, independent baseball team that can get by on their own.

IHateJoeBuck
Member
IHateJoeBuck
2 years 2 months ago

And doggone it, people like them.

willsmith888
Member
willsmith888
2 years 2 months ago

What about Nick Franklin?

Nickname Damur
Guest
Nickname Damur
2 years 2 months ago

Mariners and Tigers don’t match up too well as trade partners. The Mariners need outfielders and probably need another starting pitcher. Now that Fister is gone, Detroit doesn’t have a major league pitcher to spare and Detroit also doesn’t have any decent outfielders to spare. Franklin has a lot of upside and the Mariners would want a major league regular for him, not a relief pitcher or B level minor leaguer.

novaether
Member
novaether
2 years 2 months ago

Franklin is more of a long-term solution and Iglesias should be back by next year at the latest. They could flip Franklin next year and hope his trade value is boosted substantially after getting a full season to prove himself.

Rollins could be a target, too.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 2 months ago

Yeah, lets not give up a draft pick for a 3.4 WAR SS but its fine to give up prospects (drafted and then developed) for a lesser player

Ivan Grushenko
Guest
Ivan Grushenko
2 years 2 months ago

I wouldn’t call Franklin “lesser” and you do get 6 years of him vs 1 for Drew but you’re right that people are overvaluing the draft pick vis-a-vis prospects and are focusing too much on the 1 year salary.

pj
Guest
pj
2 years 2 months ago

No. Just no. Just because they are projected to dominate doesn’t mean they actually will. Anybody remember Red Sox after the A-Gon trade?

briney212
Guest
briney212
2 years 2 months ago

But this is a Tigers team that’s been around for a while and have proven that they are winners year in and year out. They certainly haven’t been as dominant as many have think, but they have dealt with a barrage of injuries and clubhouse conflicts. If they were that good with so much negativity happening around all year imagine what they’re truly capable of if Miggy stays healthy, Verlander rebounds, and Scherzer continues his progression. Add in V Mart who just continues to hit and Kinsler who’s hungry to prove he’s still got some good baseball left in the tank and they might be even better than we expect.

The Party Bird
Guest
The Party Bird
2 years 2 months ago

Clubhouse conflicts? Do explain, because I’ve been following the team closely and the closest thing to a clubhouse conflict I can recall since the team got really good in 2011 was when Verlander hot-footed Don Kelly.

Maybe I’m missing something? (Unless you mean the Fielder quotes, which aren’t relevant because he never played another game for the team.)

RP
Guest
RP
2 years 2 months ago

Fielder and Garcia, I assume.

RJ
Guest
RJ
2 years 2 months ago

Apparently last season Cabrera and Garcia got into a fight. Also Garcia apparently had relations with Prince’s wife.

Gary Newton
Guest
Gary Newton
2 years 2 months ago

I don’t think the Tigers need Drew, but I also don’t think that they’ll have the division locked up that easily. As said above, if Drew would come down on his asking price as well as his number of years then I could see Detroit signing him. Looking around at the other MLB clubs, I don’t see Drew as being a significant upgrade over any of the current projected starting SS except for maybe Houston and Miami. But there’s no way Houston will give him multiple years with Correa and Fontana down on the farm; and they won’t give up a 2nd round pick unless he comes way down in dollars. As for Miami, I gave up trying to figure them out a while ago.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 2 months ago

What about the mets?

Personally, I would take the under on Reuben’s projections, as they seem weighted optimistic towards both his defense and his offense improving. I see him as a replacement-level player.

IF you are using the projections systems for examining the impact of Stephen Drew, keep in mind that they are unaware of how injuries may impact a player.

hooper4
Member
Member
hooper4
2 years 2 months ago

There was a rumor… and I will emphasize rumor… floating around that Avisail Garcia slept with Prince Fielder’s wife, and that the two got into an argument. Supposedly Miggy was then hurt trying to get between the two, and that was one reason Garcia was shipped out in the Iglesias deal.

hooper4
Member
Member
hooper4
2 years 2 months ago

This was supposed to be i reply to Party Bird above, my bad.

ttnorm
Guest
ttnorm
2 years 2 months ago

I doubt that Drew will sign for 1 year unless he has no other option. And if the Tigers believe in Iglesias as I believe they do, they won’t want Drew for more than one season.

Steve
Guest
Steve
2 years 2 months ago

What are his options?

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 2 months ago

Hope the mets realize that Reuben Tejada is a replacement-level utility player?

Or he could hope that Jeter/Roberts gets hurt for the rest of the season…

Yeah, its not much, but if he’s looking for a multi-year contract (and hasn’t been offered one), waiting a few months may be worth the cost to the overall salary.

ttnorm
Guest
ttnorm
2 years 2 months ago

If he has no better options and holds out, he should fire Boras. I am pretty sure that Boras is not bluffing with air.

Sam
Guest
Sam
2 years 2 months ago

I think the Tigers would be wise to sign Drew actually. As this site’s article on the Santana signing pointed out, there’s a good chance that the Tigers would get the draft pick back by offering Drew a QO next year, and its not like the Tigers are fielding a team of all stars at 2B and 3B if Iglesias comes back too. Castellanos is untested and Kinsler is looking like a platoon player at this point.

IHateJoeBuck
Member
IHateJoeBuck
2 years 2 months ago

Given what he went through this offseason, I’d think there’s a decent chance he accepts unless he puts up a monster year.

Ian R.
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Very true, but if he has a good enough year to merit a QO, I don’t think the Tigers will have much trouble trading him. A shortstop on a one-year contract is a valuable commodity.

catswithbats
Guest
catswithbats
2 years 2 months ago

I didn’t mean to give you a negative there, even though I disagree.

Offering QOs to players he doesn’t want and whom he thinks will accept a QO doesn’t really seem to be Dombrowski’s style. Placido Polanco and Jhonny Peralta come to mind (and I think both have said they would have accepted a QO). I’m sure there are others.

The last time the Tigers offered a free agent a QO was after 2009 when they QO’d Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney, but I think they knew they wouldn’t accept.

Mark
Guest
Mark
2 years 2 months ago

If the Tigers don’t need him, can the Jays have him instead of Goins?

rustydude
Member
rustydude
2 years 2 months ago

I’m thinking Scott Boras hates Dave Cameron right now.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
2 years 2 months ago

I’m thinking Scott Boras isn’t the slightest bit concerned with the opinion of DC or any other writers, really.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 2 months ago

Seems popular for the blogs to argue that such and such a player is not worth much. Makes you wonder. I mean, Drew is not some defensively challenged slow poke on the base paths who can only hit HR’s. He plays the most important defensive position, plays it very well, and Kills RHP’ers

Projections are always way too conservative when it comes to players who have had a couple of bad years over the past 3 years due to injury. Drew over the last 3 years did not have a collection of significant injuries, it was a single injury from a collision at the plate. He is a 3 WAR player.

Iglesias in case you have not heard has a chronic issue with his pins. He was always a questionable bat but now he is a question mark as to being able to handle his position as a regular and playing every day. This is not a simple fracture that will heal and go away, although the symptoms will improve. Iglesias will deal with this his entire career and will need plenty of rest to prevent a repeat.

As to how Drew can help the Tigers. The Tigers lineup is already too RH, Drew has a LH bat that can actually hit RHP’ers. He is a plus defender at SS and was a 3.4 WAR player in 501 PA last year on a team that won the championship

Drew on a 3 year deal is great insurance for Iglesias, who may or may not be ready for the post season in 2014, not only for 2014 but also in 2015 and 2016 in case they decide to move on from Iggy. They don’t have inhouse options at SS. If Iglesias pins are not a concern at the end of the day, they can always trade Drew. A top 8 SS in the 12-14 AAV range at age 31-32 and signed only till his age 33 season will always have trade value

The team in 2014 is certainly a much stronger team with Drew. SS is after all the most important position on the field, or at least the top 3. With the pitching a bit weaker, given the loss of Fister, and Verlander starting the season on the DL, and the loss of Fielder, with V-Mart and Hunter 1 year older, the division may not be the lock everyone expects.

Drew also makes them a better team in the playoffs, although he did not hit much in the post season last year, thats hardly predictive. Iglesisas actually made a key error that helped cost the Tigers the ALCS, trying to do too much, as young players are prone to do.

The main reason the Tigers may not be in on Drew is their payroll is at 157 million with a 245 million revenue base, and not because Drew won’t help them a lot . I expect Boras would consider backloading the deal or accept deferred money, but it might not be enough.

Sure, the Tigers can wait and see, but as June approaches, I expect more teams to be interested in Drew since draft pick compensation will be off the table, and the price goes up. Also, the Yankees are one significant injury to the IF away from signing Drew. What are the odds Jeter and Roberts stay healthy?

Eric Feczko
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Eric Feczko
2 years 2 months ago

While I agree regarding Drew’s value. I still think its a bad fit for the Tigers for several reasons:

(1) Iglesias is probably a 2 WAR player that will cost very little money. I don’t think paying 8-10 million more per WAR is worth the upgrade from Iglesias to Drew. That money could be better spent elsewhere.

(2) If Iglesias manages to become an average-ish hitter (~90 wRC+), he will become a 3 WAR player. His defense is that elite.

(3) It’s been reported that Iglesias had stress fractures, which caused the shin splints and may not be a chronic condition.

(4) Drew would not be a confirmed starting shortstop after 2014, which would likely be a deal-breaker for him.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 2 months ago

Other way around on Iglesias. He had the shin splints most of last year, a chronic issue for him, which developed into stress fractures in ST, which is more serious. He likely has some predisposition to the problem due to pronation or his feet, and those with a history of stress fractures are at higher risk of getting them again.

Given his physical condition and history, I think projections are difficult for him. Drew was a better SS last year, and likely will be over the next couple of years. Iglesias as a back up IF’er and platoon partner with Drew may be the best use of him.

Drew has said many times he is willing to play elsewhere on a multi-year deal. On a 1 yr deal he wants to be starting SS.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Yeah, anyone thinking that “it’s just stress fractures” doesn’t know anything about stress fractures.

Correction
Guest
Correction
2 years 2 months ago

Verlander isn’t starting on the DL. He’s already been named opening day starter.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 2 months ago

Missed that, sounds like he made a quicker than expected recovery. Hopefully he is 100% because if he is pitching with a weak core look for arm troubles by the ASB.

Jackie T.
Member
Member
Jackie T.
2 years 2 months ago

tl;dr

skmd
Guest
skmd
2 years 2 months ago

someone mentioned Darwin Barney, and I think what makes him attractive for the Tigers is he’s cheap enough – both in $ and trade cost – to be worth a short-term flier. Drew, Franklin, a ss from Arizona – are all either long-term buys or expensive short-term ones. Cubs are overloaded with middle infielders, they would be motivated to move Barney for a not-outrageous return.

Cody
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Royals are closer to them than you think. So is Cleveland. Detroit looks like 84 win team to me. KC 83, Cleveland 82. Detroit is very much stars & scrubs.

MLS
Guest
MLS
2 years 2 months ago

uh, no. The Tigers won 93 games last year, despite having the 3rd best run differential in baseball. They were 6 wins below their 1st order Pythag and 13 wins below their 2nd order. They were bad/unlucky in extra inning games all year and it cost them a bunch of wins.

Meanwhile, Cleveland won 92 games which was 2 more than their 1st order Pythag and 5 more than their 2nd order. They were a respectable +83 run differential.

The Royals? Played slightly over their heads and posted a +47 run differential. They are unlikely to lead the league in ERA again.

Cody
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

So, there’s more to the game than hitting and starting pitching. And last year was last year.
KC has big advantage in defense, baserunning, and relief pitching, and it pretty much cancels out the 6 Detroit stars.

Cool Lester Smooth
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

But not really.

RP
Guest
RP
2 years 2 months ago

Ahahahah.

Simon
Guest
Simon
2 years 2 months ago

Even if Cleveland is an 83 win team and KC is an 81, there’s a fairly high chance that one of them will significantly exceed that number of wins.

RC
Guest
RC
2 years 2 months ago

” They were 6 wins below their 1st order Pythag and 13 wins below their 2nd order.”

That doesn’t mean they’re going necessarily get better in those things.

They were bad late in games because their bullpen wasn’t very good. They’re poorly coached. They’re terrible on defence (and just got worse).

catswithbats
Guest
catswithbats
2 years 2 months ago

How do you know that the Tigers will be poorly coached considering they just brought in a completely new coaching staff, save two guys?

walt526
Member
walt526
2 years 2 months ago

I agree that the Tigers should be very reluctant to both surrender their pick to sign Drew and sign him to any sort of a long-term deal.

That said, an underlining assumption of this article seems to be a symmetric win curve. Jeff wrote about this back in December, again in reference to the Tigers: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-tigers-and-the-other-side-of-the-win-curve/

Essentially the “other side of the win curve” argument is that in addition to the marginal value of a win being higher for a team very close to contention as compared to a team not in contention, the value of a win is lower for a team expected to win their division by a wide margin as compared to one expected to just squeak by the second-best team. Visually, picture an an upside parabola centered at the expected number of wins needed to clinch the division. Thus, there is increasing marginal value of wins up to that point and then decreasing afterwards, with the implication that the win curve is symmetric.

A potential problem with this assumption is that contending teams are looking not only to equalize the marginal benefit of a win to the marginal cost of win, but are also trying to minimize risk. In other words, there are two contributions that upgrading a position can make to the team’s likelihood of making the playoffs:
– (a) increasing expected wins to improve playoff probability; and
– (b) decreasing variance in expectation to improve playoff probability

So rather than the win curve being something symmetric (e.g., a normal distribution), it is probably something positively skewed or “skewed to the right” (e.g., Beta[2,5]). If so, then the mean and median are not equivalent (the median will be less than the mean). Since maximizing likelihood of making the playoffs is the objective of the team, what really matters is the median rather than the mean. Consequently, an incorrect assumption of symmetry in the likelihoods of outcomes will underestimate the expected value. Financial modelers refer to this problem as “skewness risk.”

It is true that the loss of Iglesias–even if it’s a full season–won’t drop the expected wins of the Tigers below the expected wins of the Indians or Royals. But it also increases their variance in expected wins, which presents a non-trivial problem for a team built-to-win now like the Tigers. So while I do not necessarily disagree with the conclusion, I think that this analysis—-and others on Fangraphs such as Jeff’s piece—-rests on an inappropriate assumption of symmetry on the win curve.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 2 months ago

Huh. I agree with your conclusion, ” But it also increases their variance in expected wins, which presents a non-trivial problem for a team built-to-win now like the Tigers.” However, I disagree with portions of your analysis.

The problem with expected wins isn’t the distribution of playoff probability for expected wins. The problem is that the distribution of playoff probability does not take into account the variance of the expected wins. In other words, signing drew will reduce the potential overlap in wins between the Tigers and the Indians/Royals. Reducing this potential overlap has value, and such value is not captured by the analysis Jeff has here.

None of this has anything to do with whether the playoff probability distribution is skewed, because it is not. The problem is that the number of expected wins lacks confidence intervals, and calculating the expected number of wins by summing up projected WAR makes the assumption that the variance between players (i.e. the confidence with which we can project a player’s performance) is the same. Because projected WAR varies between players, each team actually has a different distribution of expected wins and therefore a different distribution of playoff probability.

Overall, I don’t think any conclusions are really affected by this nuance. However, the solution here is not to re-evaluate the playoff probability distribution. The solution is to include confidence intervals for player projections and incorporate those intervals into the expected wins per team.

walt526
Member
walt526
2 years 2 months ago

You’re right. A better term for what I’m describing as the team’s objective function would be the “utility of wins” for a team, rather than the probability of making the playoffs.

Bill
Guest
Bill
2 years 2 months ago

Maybe they can ask Miguel Cabrera to change positions again.

Mike
Guest
Mike
2 years 2 months ago

This argument is silly. The Tigers should sign Drew because he makes them better now. Yes the projections say the Tigers should run away with the division, but projections are not reality. Two wins could very well cost the Tigers their chance at the postseason, and when the cost is a 1 year / $15 million contract, it would be silly to gamble your postseason on such a small cost to the team.

Waiting isn’t really an option. Drew is very unlikely to wait until after the draft to sign and at that point, everyone will know the Tigers are desperate and therefore can extract a higher cost in a trade.

Eric Feczko
Guest
Eric Feczko
2 years 2 months ago

However, I’m not sure Drew is looking for a 1 year contract. I think he’s looking for a multi-year deal.

Adam
Guest
Adam
2 years 2 months ago

Just sign Drew then shift him or Iglesias to 3rd once Iglesias returns and move Castellanos back to LF everyday (assuming the bat has been enough to keep him up). Seems like a decent back up plan if Castellanos isn’t ready for the show.

Brukruu
Guest
2 years 2 months ago

Lets say Castellanos struggles then you got two gaping holes in the lineup, not to mention Avila been really mortal hitting too, so the bottom third of lineup be pretty mundane.

6er
Member
6er
2 years 2 months ago

With no one burning Boras’ phone with calls about acquiring Drew or Morales I have to wonder when he is going to start crying collusion.

pft
Guest
pft
2 years 2 months ago

He is worried about being blackballed so has asked me to raise the alarm, but nobody heeds a semi-anonymous commenter.

Seriously, it would be a tough sell given the spending on elite free agents, but habitual offenders learn they have to be careful, and perhaps this is a limited form of collusion directed against non-elite free agents who have a QO. It could have a knock off effect on arb salaries which coincidentally or not are down this year, increased number of team friendly extensions which seem to be up, and down the road could impact other free agent salaries with a bit of creep.

YOLO69420
Guest
YOLO69420
2 years 2 months ago

But what would they be colluding for, exactly? If anything, this makes it more likely that a marginal FA takes the QO next year. That means teams will be on the hook for players like Drew at $14 mil or so.

NotoriousGman
Member
NotoriousGman
2 years 2 months ago

The tigers have the best defensive shortstop in the game today already sitting on their bench, just need to shred his retirement papers…Omar Vizquel is bench coach for Ausmus, and no doubt he can still pick it…in another ten years, he’d still pick it better then Don Kelly at SS…

Should they, or shouldn’t they sign Drew is a fun debate, and whether it’s a one year deal, or three year deal doesn’t really matter…reading this article, and every post the key component in this situation has not been mentioned…and that is the declined health, and absent ownership from Mr I…
Bottom line, if this were even two years ago and Mr I was capable of making this decision, or dining off…he and Boras would have already had lunch at his home in Boca, and Drew would have been in uniform this morning…

How they handle this situation is going to be very telling for the organization and the future of the Tigers…as well as impact the potential of extending Max and believe it or not, Miggy…Mr I, god love him, is a baseball man…he loved the game, former minor league player, the whole bit..and more then one occasion opened up his own check book, over and above any imaginary budget that DD worked within, and signed off on a deal…pudge was the first, followed by Magglio, the huge trade and extension of Miggy and as recently as Johnny Damon and prience fielder…Dave brought up these signings, but failed to mention the key factor behind them is no longer making the decisions on baseball matters when it comes to spending money…
The fans in Detroit speculate that his son, Chris is not a baseball man like the old man..his heart is with the red wings, but regardless…what they do with this situation is going to foreshadow the direction of this club, at least in the near future and Mr I passes, and they decide to sell our not….
simple…if Chris is going to operate in the spirit of his old man, they sign Drew…if they mude thru till July, maybe add a mcdonald…even trees for Franklin, then the directive from the top is crystal clear…it’s about the $$…and whether Drew is a 2 WAR or 10 WAR is irrelevant…
This is the warning shot…the fans of Detroit bed to be prepared…the window for this club is small…this year is probably it without a major poverty haul…but if Chris makes the decision to turn off the financial spicket…the window is closed…no Max extension (for better or worse), and no extension for Miggy this winter either…
Who knows, this could really be the dawning of a new era in Detroit…I could forsee with the hiring of Ausmus, this season turning into a disaster, already Anibal has sore shoulder..JV showing signs of wear…they may package miggy, as soon as this July or winter and prepare to move forward under a new model, one that is much mute fiscally conservative, and free spending…

I know it’s sentimental, but I really would, and anyone that is truly appreciative of an owner who runs a team, not to make a profit, but for the pressure and pride of a city…love for the Tigers to win the world series this year, and pray Mr I can be in peace, and live to see it…

Doug Fister
Guest
Doug Fister
2 years 2 months ago

Did anyone need a SECOND warning shot?

NotoriousGman
Member
NotoriousGman
2 years 2 months ago

I apologize, I am not over buzzed from St Pattys Day…reading that post is pretty brutal with the errors, etc but I think you can get the gest of it…this is bigger then signing Drew or not, it really does foreshadow the direction of the club under Chris Illitch…

And I am blaming all the errors and weird mis placed words in the last post on my phone, and trying to swype, while keeping the light shielded from my sleeping daughter next to me…

Mr Punch
Guest
Mr Punch
2 years 2 months ago

I agree with vivalajeter and others: (1) The Tigers aren’t a sure thing (and you don’t win unless you try); (2) Drew is the unusual aging player who, because of (unrelated) injuries, is likely to be much better than his projections. Drew was very good after May last year, i.e., post-concussion – he missed spring training after being out in ’12 – which was obscured by a weak post-season. I like Iglesias, but his current relatively successful batting approach doesn’t come naturally, so I’d guess he might need time in the minors to regain his stroke. Passing on Drew looks like an avoidable risk.

Professor Ross Eforp
Member
Professor Ross Eforp
2 years 2 months ago

I agree that this is no time to panic for the Tigers, but I also think Dave is making a potentially dangerous assumption that they will simply get replacement-level production out of Perez or Suarez. The Rockies had a team offensive fWAR of 16.1 last year and 20.1 of that came from their top 6 contributors.

Hurtlockertwo
Guest
Hurtlockertwo
2 years 2 months ago

The Tigers should be concerned that a 24 y/o man has stress fx’s in both legs. That is very unusual for a man that age.

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