It's been no secret who the free agents for the Tigers were going to be. So it's no secret who they are now that the World Series has ended.
They are Max Scherzer, Victor Martinez, Torii Hunter, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Jim Johnson and Joel Hanrahan.
The Tigers will soon announce to which of the seven they will make a qualifying offer, opening the door to an additional draft choice as compensation. But at the same time, the Tigers also might disclose which ones they won't try to re-sign.
Ahead of that announcement, Tom Gage and Lynn Henning weigh in with their opinions.
Gage: Knowing you to be someone with strong opinions, I imagine you feel strongly about which free agents will be back, might be back and won't be back.
Do we agree Martinez is the most likely to return?
Henning: Yes. But it will be expensive and a longer deal than the front office might appreciate. The Tigers, beginning with owner Mike Ilitch, understand Martinez is exceptional. Not sure they can or will go four years, but I think they'd bite on a three-year arrangement.
Gage: So do I. A club option for a fourth year might even be part of the mix.
Coke's future is an interesting one to discuss. He won't break the bank and he did pitch well for much of the season. Plus dependable left-handers (which, granted, he's not always been) are hard to find.
Henning: Simply because it's an open market and you have 29 other teams in the mix, the feeling here is Coke will sign elsewhere. I think the Tigers have other options, just as Coke has. That equates in my view to a new team in 2015.
Gage: I've written a couple pieces about how the Tigers might be able to afford both Scherzer and Martinez — if that's what the Tigers want to do. They've been construed by some as what I want the Tigers to do, which isn't necessarily the case. But I never underestimate the power of Ilitch's wallet to get things done.
Do you see the Tigers substantially hiking the payroll again?
Henning: I think it has to beat by $10 million or so the past year's number ($163 million) and will perhaps land in the $170 million-plus range.
They won't approach luxury-tax altitude ($189 million) but it's going to be difficult to spend much less than $175 million and improve the club. And that's with no Scherzer.
Gage: Hunter played well enough to play again next season, but the math isn't really there for him to remain with the Tigers, is it?
He made $12 million in 2013 and $14 million in 2014. Even if you offer him a year with a base of $10 million, it's difficult to see him coming back, unless neither Scherzer or Martinez returns, right?
Henning: This is a tough one. I suspect, ideally, the Tigers would love to sign him to a reasonable (one year, $7 million) deal. He is fabulous insurance as they wait for Steven Moya. But with all the other areas they need to fix, not sure Hunter is an affordable luxury.
Gage: Any thoughts about free agents from other teams the Tigers might try to sign?
Henning: I've thought all along that Colby Rasmus makes sense for center field. The Tigers must get a new man there, and Rasmus makes the most sense in terms of defense and economy. Of course they want Andrew Miller. But, again, so do a lot of teams.
It would make sense if they sign Edison Volquez as a rotation replacement for Scherzer. But you're talking major money here and not sure they can do the above without trading a salary. Which is why I half-expect them to try to trade Ian Kinsler and go with Hernan Perez or Eugenio Suarez at second base.
Another person who must be considered is Joakim Soria. From one perspective, it's an easy call to bring him back. He pitched brilliantly ahead of his trade to Detroit and there's no reason he shouldn't be back in form in 2015. But you're talking a $6.5 million difference in his salary ($7 million) and buying out his option ($500,000). This payroll puzzle is tricky enough to make you at least wonder.
But the Tigers invested heavily in trading for him and they need every possible ally in that bullpen. It simply makes more sense, in my view, to expect that he'll pitch with full health and better results in 2015.