The Tigers’ rebuilding efforts landed the organization prospects. Now, it appears, it’s going to take patience. And, most definitely, more prospects.
It’s unlikely anyone was expecting a quick turnaround as the Tigers traded away stars late last season and this offseason for salary relief and an infusion of young talent. But, in assessing each major-league team’s “future power ranking” over the next five seasons, ESPN on Monday ranked the Tigers 27th — ahead of only the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and Miami Marlins.
So, buckle up, Tigers fans. It’s going to be a long haul to get back to contention.
“It’s as if the credit card bill for a decade of good baseball in Detroit came due last year,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes, “and GM Al Avila was absolutely transparent about the team’s current strategy as he traded away stars such as Justin Verlander and Ian Kinsler. They must slash payroll, they must add prospects to their farm system, and it may take years before the Tigers contend again.”
The selling off of regulars such as Verlander, Kinsler, outfielders J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton, reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila helped the Tigers reshape the top of their prospect ladder, producing five in the top 10 of Lynn Henning’s top Tigers prospects.
But, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Olney adds that future Hall-of-Famer Miguel Cabrera’s pursuit of milestones will be a “welcome distraction from what figures to be some significant problems.”
ESPN’s future power rankings were determined, in part, by current talent (25 percent of the team’s score), future talent (45 percent), financial support (20 percent), and front office/ownership (10 percent).
That front office is tasked with a couple of huge contracts to Cabrera and starting pitching Jordan Zimmermann, who is owed $74 million through 2020.
“Zimmermann may be completely unmovable,” ESPN’s Dan Szymborski writes, “but what about Cabrera? It's an open question, but would the Tigers be willing to eat a lot of salary to move their franchise player, who has a minimum of $184 million remaining?”
The Tigers, who finished with 98 losses last season, were ranked last in ESPN’s “way-too-early” 2018 power rankings in November.