After another disappointing season in 2022, the Detroit Tigers look for a fresh start in 2023. But this year won’t be any easier.
The Tigers finished 4th in the AL Central last season, posting a 66-96 record. Not only are the Tigers in a crowded division, but they have a legend retiring after the season. Long-time first baseman Miguel Cabrera will be playing his final year in 2023. Overall, the 2022-23 off-season was a quiet one for the Tigers. Let’s take a look at the moves and how 2023’s roster shakes out.
2022-23 Offseason Recap
As usual, this section details the key moves of any team’s offseason. A full list of transactions for the Tigers can be found through their team website here.
Key Additions –
- Signed free agent pitcher Michael Lorenzen to a one-year, $8.5 million contract on Dec. 20, 2022.
- Signed free agent pitcher Matt Boyd to a contract on Dec. 14, 2022.
- Claimed catcher Mario Feliciano off of waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers on Dec. 21, 2022.
- Also claimed second baseman Andy Ibañez off of waivers from the Texas Rangers on Nov. 10, 2022.
Key Subtractions –
- Catcher Tucker Barnhart left in free agency to join the Chicago Cubs.
- Pitcher Andrew Chafin left in free agency to join the Arizona Diamondbacks.
- Pitcher Daniel Norris left in free agency to join the Cincinnati Reds.
- Third baseman Jeimer Candelario left in free agency to join the Washington Nationals.
- Lost shortstop Willi Castro in free agency to the Minnesota Twins.
- Traded away pitcher Joe Jimenez to the Atlanta Braves for third baseman Justyn-Henry Malloy and pitcher Jake Higginbotham.
- Traded away pitcher Gregory Soto and prospect second baseman Kody Clemens to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Matt Vierling, shortstop Nick Maton, and catcher Donny Sands.
Based on all of the subtractions, 2023 appears to be a rebuild year in Detroit. But what is there to look forward to? Let’s dive a little deeper…
2023 Season Headlines
Cabrera’s Final Season
Of course, the big news will be the farewell tour of longtime first baseman Miguel Cabrera. The Venezuela native will be playing in his 16th season in Detroit in 2023. After a World Baseball Classic workout earlier this month, Cabrera told ESPN, “My body is certainly telling me that this might be the right time to call it a career. I am really grateful for all that I have been able to live and accomplish on the baseball field. But it is time to go.”
Cabrera will receive a standing ovation every night of his final season, and each of them will be well deserved. A sure-fire Hall of Famer, Cabrera is part of an extremely select group to rack up 3000 hits, 600 doubles and 500 home runs.
Rebuild Or Compete?
After a large chunk of 2022’s roster either left for free agency or was traded away, Detroit is looking at a potential rebuild. However, they could play as a surprise dark horse if the AL Central turns into a weak division in 2023. With the Twins, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Guardians, and Chicago White Sox doing some retooling in the offseason, however, it’s not going to be an easy task.
The Tigers have a new front office in place led by Scott Harris. Based on his moves so far, fans will need to be patient while the next wave of prospects develops in the minor leagues. A competitive 2022 would require remarkable bounce backs from Javier Baez and Austin Meadows.
Who’s Going to be the Guy in the Starting Rotation?
As perplexing as it might be, the Tigers don’t have a true ace for their rotation. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez will get the Opening Day nod, but there’s not much behind him. That may cause a rise of concern, which could put manager A.J. Hinch in a bit of hot water early in the season.
Detroit has a number of talented pitchers, but they have all dealt with injuries in recent years. Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Matt Manning have all performed well in the majors before but combined for 190 innings last season.
Finally, here’s the projections and their shake-out for Opening Day on Mar. 30 in Tampa Bay against the Rays:
Detroit Tigers Season Preview: Opening Day Lineups, Rotation, and Bullpen
Catcher – Eric Haase
First Baseman – Spencer Torkelson
Second Baseman – Jonathan Schoop
Third Baseman – Kerry Carpenter
Shortstop – Javier Baez
Left Fielder – Austin Meadows
Center Fielder – Riley Greene
Right Fielder – Akil Baddoo
Designated Hitter – Miguel Cabrera
Bench – Ryan Kreidler, Jake Rogers, Nick Maton, Matt Vierling
Note: Michael Lorenzen will be in the rotation, but will start the season on the IL
Overall, this looks to be another down year for the Tigers. But they may make some noise in the AL Central if everyone stays healthy. And a young group has proven to be entertaining before in baseball, like the 2022 Cleveland Guardians. If Detroit can capture some of that magic, they can make their first playoff appearance since 2014.
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