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Gage: Tigers might be set for winter, save for tweaking

Tom Gage
The Detroit News

Detroit — What if the Tigers don't do anything else the rest of the winter?

Can you live with this starting lineup for next season? Even if you can't, you better get used to it.

Rajai Davis, LF; Ian Kinsler, 2B; Miguel Cabrera, 1B; Victor Martinez, DH; J.D. Martinez, RF; Nick Castellanos, 3B; Alex Avila, C; Jose Iglesias, SS; and Anthony Gose, CF.

And with this bench?

Bryan Holaday/James McCann, C; Andrew Romine, IF; Hernan Perez, IF; and Tyler Collins, OF.

And these starting pitchers?

Anibal Sanchez, David Price, Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello, and Kyle Lobstein.

And this bullpen?

Al Alburquerque, Ian Krol, Blaine Hardy, Bruce Rondon, Joel Hanrahan/Luke Putkonen, Joakim Soria and Joe Nathan.

With those 25 spots, you could be looking at next Opening Day's roster.

No one, including anyone from the Tigers, is saying that's it for the rest of the offseason — no more trades, no more additions, no more transactions.

Know what, though? Despite the need for another lefty in the bullpen, it's possible — because Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski last week seemed to be stepping on the brakes.

Speaking after the Victor Martinez announcement, Dombrowski initially said what everybody knows: "We're going to have a hefty payroll, so we'll just see what happens.

"We're going to regroup and see where we are at this point. I'm not going to say we're going to do anything particular right now."

His only comment about adding a lefty to the bullpen, other than "we'll see what happens" was that "we need guys like Krol to pitch better. We think he can."

Dombrowski also made a point of adding, when Max Scherzer's name was mentioned, "we are comfortable with the four starters that we have, and also with going with a young guy as our fifth guy.

"Plus, as we said at the time, we did acquire David Price to help us in this kind of situation."

Meaning that Scherzer already has been replaced in the Tigers' mindset?

Not necessarily.

With an owner in Mike Ilitch, an impulsive spender when stars are involved, Dombrowski leaves all doors ajar. But Scherzer's return clearly isn't being counted on.

When asked what else might occur, Dombrowski said, "I like our club; we're not folding up the tent at this point.

"But the good thing is that we filled up the void in the middle of our lineup (with the signing of Martinez) and we got someone (Gose) to play center field who can go get the ball. "

Priorities have been addressed, in other words.

"We can get better," Dombrowski said. "But sometimes it doesn't take a big splashy, big-dollar move to pick up someone who can do the job.

"I'm not ready to say we're done, but I'm also not at a point of mass emergency."

Translation: Nothing big is on the horizon. For that matter, nothing even mid-size.

That's why a projection of the starting lineup isn't out of the question at this point, not to mention projecting the 25-man roster while we're at it.

The Tigers will have a glut of shortstops at spring training if Iglesias and Romine are joined by Perez and Eugenio Suarez.

Perez and Romine are more versatile and also run better than Suarez — making them more useful on the bench.

Of Perez in particular, it's easy to think of him as being older than he is, because he's been with the Tigers for portions of the last three seasons, but he won't be 24 until March 26.

Suarez won't be 24 until July, so playing shortstop every day at Triple A might be more advisable at this point.

Another player on the brink of contributing is outfielder Steven Moya. But a full-time outfield spot doesn't appear to be available, so the bench nod would favor Collins because of his ability to play all three outfield positions.

Moya, however, isn't far from being a central figure in the Tigers' plans.

Retaining Ezequiel Carrera might not be out of the question, either. He's still on the 40-man roster.

But the bottom line remains the same: Although another lefty reliever would appear to be mandatory, the extent of what the Tigers might do the rest of the winter is to tinker and tweak.

The budget probably won't allow much else.

And in their mind — with the signing of Martinez, the trade for Gose, plus the returns of Soria and Rondon — the biggest holes have been addressed.