LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Detroit — All in favor? Thought so.

The show of hands is impressive. Even president and general manager Dave Dombrowski believes the Tigers need a more productive bench.

But here's the catch. The Tigers aren't going to allocate much money this winter to come up with one.

"Our bench could be better," Dombrowski said. "But I don't think it's going to be a big expenditure."

It's not hard to envision the components of the four-man Tigers bench for next season.

■ They'll have an infielder who can play shortstop.

■ They'll have a backup catcher.

■ They'll have a versatile player such as Don Kelly — meaning Kelly himself in all likelihood, who can play multiple positions.

■ They'll have an extra outfielder who preferably hits left-handed.

If Jose Iglesias is healthy and returns as the starting shortstop, his backup will be either Andrew Romine or Eugenio Suarez.

As far as playing time is concerned, they nearly were equal in terms of plate appearances and innings played — Suarez had 277 plate appearances to Romine's 273, but Romine had the edge in innings played, 6762/3 to 6311/3).

Plus, Romine played a lot more in September because of his defense.

With Alex Avila returning as the starting catcher, Bryan Holaday's backup spot will get a challenge from James McCann because it's thought McCann will be more productive.

"We think he's ready to be a big-time catcher," Dombrowski said of McCann. "We like him a lot."

Kelly is arbitration eligible, but remains affordable after making $1 million this season, in which he started games at five positions but saw action at six.

Spelling Nick Castellanos, Kelly started 13 games at third base, the most he's played there since 2011, and eight in right. He also started six games in center, five in left and four at first base.

But it was his first homerless season with the Tigers since 2009.

As for the fourth bench player, Andy Dirks could qualify if he comes back healthy after missing a full season after back surgery followed by the various problems, such as hamstring strains.

If the Tigers acquire an everyday center fielder — center already having been identified as one of their priorities this offseason — Rajai Davis can return to being an extra outfielder. But if they don't, or even if the Tigers depend on a platoon system in center next year, there will be a bench spot for an outfielder.

Ezequiel Carrera, who played in 45 games with the Tigers, is a long shot. He provides speed off the bench (seven steals) but has no power and was erratic defensively, ranging from making a catch-of-the-year candidate against the Yankees to being guilty of numerous odd routes.

But with McCann or Holaday, Suarez or Romine, Kelly and Dirks, it could be the Tigers won't make an external move to add to their bench this winter.

Even so, it needs to get better.

"Can we get more production from our bench?" Dombrowski said. "Yes, we can be better.

"Now, when I say that, we took a gamble the last couple of months when we gave up Austin Jackson. We then took Davis off our bench.

"Would that have made a difference in the postseason? "I don't know because I don't know if we would have gotten to where we got to if we didn't have David Price."

As for how Davis did in center, Dombrowski said he "did all right, but he's not a natural center fielder."

What's clear, however — with Dombrowski's admission there won't be a "big expenditure" for the bench — is the Tigers will hope the players they have can step up their game offensively.

"I think we have to find the right pieces to fit there and be more productive," Dombrowski said.

Whether they're right or not, the pieces will be familiar.

tom.gage@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/Tom_Gage

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE