The Tigers have been playing with money a bit in the last couple of months, ditching Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson, both of whom are still valuable pieces to a baseball team and in return got Austin Jackson and Max Scherzer. Scherzer will likely be very good in the coming seasons, but the trade of Granderson–and then the signing of middle reliever Jose Valverde–had me thinking the Tigers were in financial straights and making poor decisions to make up for it.
As far as I know they still are, but the Tigers made some progress by signing pitching star Justin Verlander to a big contract through 2014-five years, $80 million–and it was probably thanks to shipping Granderson. A lot of that comes on the backend too, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com. Jon Morosi of FoxSports.net reported GM Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers are going to keep payroll up to its level in 2009.
This doesn’t necessitate that the franchise is doing well, but that any financial surplus may be used for this year and debts will be paid off next. The Tigers lose a lot of payroll after 2010 because of expiring contracts. They could either try to compete immediately again by signing a ton of free agents with the extra hooch or let Cabrera and Verlander own the heck out of the AL Central with a bunch of replacement players and flirt with being below .500 while paying off debts.
A friend whose a Tigers fan noted that Jackson for Scherzer was a great value swap (I agree) and getting Austin Jackson for Granderson will prove fruitful in the long run. Granderson’s split versus lefties is indeed atrocious and a good reason for shipping him, but that would mean the Tigers looked at Granderson and understood his inherent value was stunted by his splits–this from a team that just threw $14 million at an aging and overvalued “closer.”
I dunno. For all I know, the Tigers were having a cash flow problem in the months between the Granderson trade and the Verlander signing. Seems kinda sketch to me, but it looks more like Dombrowski is playing with financial flexibility. I want to see what he does when all that money gets free after this season. One thing is for certain, though, and that’s that the Tigers did actually make themselves better, and maybe even for the 2010 season, with Jackson and Scherzer instead of Granderson and Jackson.