Detroit Tigers probably won’t spend big this offseason. Here’s what they need to do

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="With the World Series concluding this week, Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila is&nbsp;preparing for offseason decisions.” data-reactid=”6″>With the World Series concluding this week, Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila is preparing for offseason decisions.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="And this offseason may be devoid of&nbsp;groundbreaking moves, even though the Tigers are now applying a "sense of urgency" mantra to their prolonged rebuild, which began in 2017 and seems to be internally projected for a 2022 finish.” data-reactid=”7″>And this offseason may be devoid of groundbreaking moves, even though the Tigers are now applying a “sense of urgency” mantra to their prolonged rebuild, which began in 2017 and seems to be internally projected for a 2022 finish.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Free agency begins the day after the World Series —&nbsp;between&nbsp;the eager-to-spend&nbsp;Los Angeles Dodgers and cash-strapped Tampa Bay Rays —&nbsp;is over, but players can’t sign with a new team for five days.” data-reactid=”8″>Free agency begins the day after the World Series — between the eager-to-spend Los Angeles Dodgers and cash-strapped Tampa Bay Rays — is over, but players can’t sign with a new team for five days.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="GOLD GLOVES: Jonathan Schoop, Niko Goodrum named finalists” data-reactid=”13″>GOLD GLOVES: Jonathan Schoop, Niko Goodrum named finalists

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="UNKNOWN PROSPECT: Bryant Packard moving to first base, knows bat must carry him” data-reactid=”14″>UNKNOWN PROSPECT: Bryant Packard moving to first base, knows bat must carry him

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="FUTURE IS NOW: Why Tigers fans should take this crop of prospects seriously” data-reactid=”15″>FUTURE IS NOW: Why Tigers fans should take this crop of prospects seriously

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Although the Tigers only have one major payroll obligation for 2021 (Miguel Cabera’s $30 million)&nbsp;and are financially capable of spending for a couple of long-term All-Star contracts in free agency, that doesn’t seem to be what’s in store for the organization.” data-reactid=”16″>Although the Tigers only have one major payroll obligation for 2021 (Miguel Cabera’s $30 million) and are financially capable of spending for a couple of long-term All-Star contracts in free agency, that doesn’t seem to be what’s in store for the organization.

“We’re working at this as fast as we can,” Avila told the Free Press on Friday. “Now, when there’s enough (prospects) there (in the majors), obviously, at that point, just like every team, you’re gonna go outside, and you’re going to put together the players you need to complete that team. I couldn’t give you a timeframe right now.”

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila watches his 2020 No. 1 draft pick, Spencer Torkelson, who took batting practice Saturday, July 4, at Comerica Park.Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila watches his 2020 No. 1 draft pick, Spencer Torkelson, who took batting practice Saturday, July 4, at Comerica Park.

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Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila watches his 2020 No. 1 draft pick, Spencer Torkelson, who took batting practice Saturday, July 4, at Comerica Park.

Don’t expect the Tigers to spend this offseason for two reasons. The first is the financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s unknown how many fans will be in Comerica Park next season. Will it be 50% or 20% capacity, or will there be no fans in 2021, either? Likewise, the schedule might not be a full 162 games, but rather another shortened season.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Every team in baseball is facing some type of financial shortage. The business side of the industry isn’t well, and it would be reckless for Avila to promise the signings of top players&nbsp;— catcher J.T. Realmuto (Phillies), outfielder George Springer (Astros) or batting-champ DJ LeMahieu (Yankees) — because it’s possible he won’t be able to make good on his word.” data-reactid=”39″>Every team in baseball is facing some type of financial shortage. The business side of the industry isn’t well, and it would be reckless for Avila to promise the signings of top players — catcher J.T. Realmuto (Phillies), outfielder George Springer (Astros) or batting-champ DJ LeMahieu (Yankees) — because it’s possible he won’t be able to make good on his word.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="[ Furloughs, layoffs hit business side of Wings, Tigers, other Ilitch Holdings venues ]” data-reactid=”40″>[ Furloughs, layoffs hit business side of Wings, Tigers, other Ilitch Holdings venues ]

“We’re still waiting for the tender deadline and see who gets nontendered,” Avila said. “After the World Series is when free agency starts, so right now, it’s a little early. We’re just going to have to see how it all develops. I couldn’t really commit to anything at that point (early October), and it’s still kind of the same thing. … Right now I couldn’t tell you, as far as free agents, which way we’re going to go or what we’re going to do.”

The other reason for not spending this offseason comes from the prospects. But if Avila plans to go down this road, he needs to stick to what he is preaching: “sense of urgency.” The Tigers don’t know exactly how their minor leaguers are going to transition to the big leagues, and it’s tough to justify long-term decisions in the pandemic without considering what’s coming through the farm system.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="For example, the Tigers need a first baseman next year. In 2020, C.J. Cron filled the void on a one-year contract before he elected season-ending knee surgery. They need a second baseman; it was Jonathan Schoop on a one-year deal. And they need a catcher; Austin Romine took the role&nbsp;last season on (you guessed it) a one-year agreement.” data-reactid=”43″>For example, the Tigers need a first baseman next year. In 2020, C.J. Cron filled the void on a one-year contract before he elected season-ending knee surgery. They need a second baseman; it was Jonathan Schoop on a one-year deal. And they need a catcher; Austin Romine took the role last season on (you guessed it) a one-year agreement.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, could be the future at first base, if the Tigers give up the third-base project. Plus, first base&nbsp;might be the opening that allows him to reach the majors. Willi Castro could become an everyday second baseman after hitting .349&nbsp;this past season. Or Isaac Paredes could move to that position, freeing up Jeimer Candelario at third base.&nbsp;And at catcher, if it’s not going to be Jake Rogers, the Tigers are salivating over Dillon Dingler, a second-round pick from Ohio State in 2020.” data-reactid=”44″>But Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, could be the future at first base, if the Tigers give up the third-base project. Plus, first base might be the opening that allows him to reach the majors. Willi Castro could become an everyday second baseman after hitting .349 this past season. Or Isaac Paredes could move to that position, freeing up Jeimer Candelario at third base. And at catcher, if it’s not going to be Jake Rogers, the Tigers are salivating over Dillon Dingler, a second-round pick from Ohio State in 2020.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="For subscribers:&nbsp;When will Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson debut? Avila weighs in” data-reactid=”49″>For subscribers: When will Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson debut? Avila weighs in

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Tigers also have 2019 No. 5 overall pick Riley Greene to keep in mind, as well as second baseman Kody Clemens and&nbsp;outfielders Daniel Cabera,&nbsp;Parker Meadows and Bryant Packard.” data-reactid=”50″>The Tigers also have 2019 No. 5 overall pick Riley Greene to keep in mind, as well as second baseman Kody Clemens and outfielders Daniel CaberaParker Meadows and Bryant Packard.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="If the Tigers won't spend this offseason but want to remain in a "sense of urgency" stage, some of these players, as well as Torkelson, need to get big-league opportunities to give the organization a sense of what it has in the future. The same is true for right-handed pitchers Matt Manning and Alex Faedo, joining right-hander Casey Mize and left-hander Tarik Skubal&nbsp;—&nbsp;both of them debuted&nbsp;this past season.” data-reactid=”51″>If the Tigers won’t spend this offseason but want to remain in a “sense of urgency” stage, some of these players, as well as Torkelson, need to get big-league opportunities to give the organization a sense of what it has in the future. The same is true for right-handed pitchers Matt Manning and Alex Faedo, joining right-hander Casey Mize and left-hander Tarik Skubal — both of them debuted this past season.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But if the Tigers aren't willing to push some of&nbsp;their prospects to the majors, and if they won’t spend this offseason, expect a result similar to the 2020 season — one-year contracts abroad&nbsp;as well as a&nbsp;last-place&nbsp;finish&nbsp;in the American League Central.” data-reactid=”52″>But if the Tigers aren’t willing to push some of their prospects to the majors, and if they won’t spend this offseason, expect a result similar to the 2020 season — one-year contracts abroad as well as a last-place finish in the American League Central.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Faedo turns 25 years old this&nbsp;November; Manning will be 23 in January; Rogers will be 26 in April; Dingler will be 23 in September; Torkelson will be 22 in August; Clemens will be 25 in May; Packard will be 24 next October; Greene — who might be the best prospect the Tigers have — just turned 20 this September.” data-reactid=”53″>Faedo turns 25 years old this November; Manning will be 23 in January; Rogers will be 26 in April; Dingler will be 23 in September; Torkelson will be 22 in August; Clemens will be 25 in May; Packard will be 24 next October; Greene — who might be the best prospect the Tigers have — just turned 20 this September.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="[ Tigers’ second-tier prospects could tilt rebuild toward success ]” data-reactid=”54″>[ Tigers’ second-tier prospects could tilt rebuild toward success ]

From left, pitchers Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning and Casey Mize pose for a photo during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.From left, pitchers Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning and Casey Mize pose for a photo during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

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From left, pitchers Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning and Casey Mize pose for a photo during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.

Debuting prospects between ages 18-22 happens each year across the league, but why not often in Detroit? That’s where Avila could make use of this “sense of urgency” phrase and call some of them up already — shortened season or not, innings limit or not — to push the rebuild forward without needing to spend this offseason.

“We want to get our big-league club up and running into the playoffs, into the World Series,” Avila said. “That’s our goal. We don’t want to get there years from now. We want to get there ASAP.”

Once Avila has an understanding of which prospects are likely to have big-league sustainability, the Tigers can open the checkbook and sign long-term free agents next offseason, assuming the financial climate is back to normal.

Because there will be a time when Avila spends.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Ilitch has made that promise.” data-reactid=”79″>Ilitch has made that promise.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="But if the Tigers wait any longer to spend&nbsp;without getting their&nbsp;prospects to the&nbsp;majors or using them to make&nbsp;significant trades for All-Stars, the window of opportunity will close.” data-reactid=”80″>But if the Tigers wait any longer to spend without getting their prospects to the majors or using them to make significant trades for All-Stars, the window of opportunity will close.

And the organization’s choices — or lack thereof — could spoil the rebuild.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=""We are all working with a sense of urgency," Avila told his 49 prospects in Lakeland, Florida, for instructional league camp. "Don’t come here to instructional league to go through the motions to get BP (batting practice) and your at-bats,&nbsp;your running, get your work in and then go home.” data-reactid=”82″>”We are all working with a sense of urgency,” Avila told his 49 prospects in Lakeland, Florida, for instructional league camp. “Don’t come here to instructional league to go through the motions to get BP (batting practice) and your at-bats, your running, get your work in and then go home.

“You come here with a sense of urgency that you need to get to the big leagues. Like, right now. That’s how we’re working.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.” data-reactid=”84″>Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content=".oembed-frame {width:100%;height:100%;margin:0;border:0;}” data-reactid=”85″>.oembed-frame {width:100%;height:100%;margin:0;border:0;}

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<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: If Detroit Tigers don’t spend this offseason, here’s what must happen” data-reactid=”88″>This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: If Detroit Tigers don’t spend this offseason, here’s what must happen

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