Are the Detroit Tigers in fire sale mode?
In 2009 the Detroit Tigers had the fifth largest MLB payroll, and they failed to win their division, and they failed to make the playoffs. They are now facing a 201 season with a lot of dead money on the payroll, and since they are located in a state with double digit unemployment figures it surely means that their attendance will fall. Therefore the Tigers have to save money where they can, and since a lot of their bad contracts come off the books after the 2010 season, the front office appears willing to write off the 2010 season all together trade away a few pieces and look to rebuild for the future.
The Tigers are on the hook for 18 million dollars to Magglio Ordonez, but that is hardly a fraction of the dead money on this roster. Nate Robertson is owed 10 million, Dontrelle Willis is owed 12 million, and Jeremy Bonderman is owed 12.5 million. That comes out to 34.5 million for three pitchers who went 3-8 and pitched just 92.5 innings combined in 2009. When we add the 11 million dollars Carlos Guillen, a player without a position on this team, is owed that is 45.5 million dollars of dead money. Since Guillen is signed through 2011 we can add another 11 million dollars to that figure for 56.5 million dollars of dead money or more just about half of the Tigers 115 million 2009 payroll.
Since these contracts are so bad, they are essentially unmovable. So the Tigers have to find other ways to cut payroll dollars, they are reportedly shopping Center Fielder Curtis Granderson. Granderson is owed almost 40 million dollars over the next four years, and regardless of how good he is it is payroll space the Tigers desperately need.
They need to find a closer since Fernando Rodney is due a big raise in a contract year, they may need to resign Edwin Jackson or a suitable replacement, they also need a starting short stop, and they are willing to let Gold Glove winning second baseman Placido Polanco leave via free agency. While they have a few prospects that can fill some of these positions, they have big holes all over the roster.