Dave Dombrowski said several weeks ago that the Detroit Tigers likely were done making big moves this offseason. Would he reconsider if Nelson Cruz’s price tag dropped from its current spot — he’s reportedly asking for four years and $75 million — into a friendlier range?
ESPN’s Jim Bowden says yes. He pegged “a power bat” as the Tigers’ missing link in a column posted Thursday, and Cruz as the solution to that problem.
The Tigers’ trade of first baseman Prince Fielder, combined with their failure to upgrade offensively in left field, have left them one power hitter short. They did sign veteran speedster Rajai Davis, who is expected to split time with Andy Dirks in left field, but it really leaves questions about the bottom half of their lineup.
Cruz would solve this problem for them and might be willing to sign a one-year “pillow” deal for a chance to hit in that lineup and return to the postseason. He would cost the Tigers their first-round pick, but a team in such a “win-now” mode can’t get too carried away about a pick, particularly when it is at the end of the first round (No. 24).
The Tigers’ willingness to welcome back Jhonny Peralta for last season’s playoffs after his 50-game PED-related suspension might indicate that Cruz’s own suspension under the same sweeping round of MLB punishments would not be an issue. How Cruz might hit in light of that slip-up remains a mystery — he finished last season with a .266 average and 27 home runs in 109 games, but he did not return to the Rangers’ lineup after his suspension.
As of right now, the Tigers would have Andy Dirks in left field on Opening Day, with Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter rounding out the outfield. Dirks suffered through a very disappointing 2013, which led many to speculate that the Tigers would shop for a new option this offseason. Instead, the only addition with LF potential so far has been utility man Steve Lombardozzi, who came over in the Doug Fister trade.
So, another bat might make sense. Could it be Cruz?