It’s that time of the year to talk about everyone’s favorite topic, rebuilding! The Detroit Tigers are in full rebuild mode and likely will be for the next two to three seasons. The front office claims they want to compete in 2020 but progress is a slow process in Detroit. The most exciting thing to happen for Tigers fans last season was trying to decipher what happened during the fight between local broadcasters Mario Impemba and Rod Allen. Miguel Cabrera DH and friends lost 98 games last year and finished 3rd in a weak AL Central, which boasts a few other rebuilding teams with high expectations this year (looking at you Twins and White Sox.) I’m going to keep writing DH every time I type Miguel Cabrera until it becomes true. Thoughts become things. Did you know Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, and David Price were once on this team? Of course you did, but I have to mention it or someone in the comments will say “I can’t believe you didn’t mention they used to have JV, JD, and David?!”

Dave Dombrowski successfully decimated the Tigers farm system throughout his tenure, but they made the World Series in 2006 and 2012 so he kind of gets a pass? *shrugs* In 2015, the Tigers promoted Al Avila (famous for trading his own son) to GM and he has been as impressive as the Super Bowl was this year. Get it?! It was boring Trey Wingo. The Tigers can’t trade Miguel Cabrera DH because he has the worst contract in baseball. He is still owed over $150 million for the next five years! If Detroit could get the production out of Miggy that Albert Pujols put up during his age 36-38 seasons they would be thrilled. Avila failed to move tradeable assets Michael Fulmer, Nick Castellanos, and Shane Greene at last years deadline. If they’re embracing the rebuild they will likely attempt to move on from these three if they start out hot and a contender comes calling. Personally I think they should re-sign Castellanos and start spending some free agent dollars on players that can produce, rather than cycling through washed up veterans filling a roster spot (Matt Moore yay!!). The Tigers and Comerica Park traditionally have a great crowd and atmosphere, but last season they suffered a significant drop in attendance, averaging only 22,926 fans at home games according to Baseball Reference. Their attendance has declined every year since 2013. Let’s see if the loyal fans have anything to be excited about in 2019 before the the crowd starts to dwindle like fans at Marlins Park in Miami.

Projected Lineup G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
3B Jeimer Candelario (S) 139 617 19 74 67 3 0.240 0.323 0.411
LF Christin Stewart (L) 116 502 22 62 66 1 0.246 0.328 0.449
DH Miguel Cabrera (R) 128 562 22 73 77 1 0.283 0.369 0.48
RF Nicholas Castellanos (R) 147 642 24 80 89 3 0.276 0.335 0.479
2B Niko Goodrum (S) 121 492 14 51 54 11 0.238 0.301 0.392
1B John Hicks (R) 76 317 8 32 35 2 0.248 0.295 0.388
SS Jordy Mercer (R) 88 351 7 37 36 2 0.252 0.320 0.390
CF JaCoby Jones (R) 100 409 10 42 41 11 0.225 0.284 0.370
C Grayson Greiner (R) 88 354 8 35 35 2 0.236 0.307 0.367

This is ugly, Steamer doesn’t project anyone to hit more than 25 HR or steal more than 11 bases. You will rack up the Ks if you stream SP every week against this lineup. Castellanos is not a sexy pick but he will be a consistent OF hitter. Maybe he gets dealt to a contender with a better supporting cast that will help increase his counting stats.

If Miguel Cabrera DH can stay healthy for 130 games he is a great value around pick 166. This is unlikely because Cabrera could hurt his knee by putting on his cleats tomorrow. Goodrum and Candelario have potential, but they both need to reduce their strikeouts and pop ups and start hitting line drives. Candelario dealt with a wrist issue last year which could be why he never looked comfortable and hit a sad .224. The last hitter of relevance is OF Christin Stewart, he was the Tigers Minor League Player of the year in 2016 and 2017. He has solid plate discipline, great power potential, and is going to play every day in LF and hit 2nd in the lineup. His Steamer projections seem on the low end to me and he makes for an intriguing late round sleeper.

Projected Rotation W L SV G IP K/9 BB/9 ERA WHIP
RHP Michael Fulmer 10 11 0 29 175 7.58 2.80 4.38 1.34
RHP Jordan Zimmermann 8 11 0 28 155 6.45 2.31 5.09 1.38
LHP Matthew Boyd 9 11 0 29 170 7.90 3.01 4.82 1.35
LHP Daniel Norris 6 7 0 19 106 7.47 3.80 4.95 1.47
LHP Matt Moore 4 7 0 16 90 6.72 3.44 5.34 1.48
Bullpen W L SV G IP K/9 BB/9 ERA WHIP
RHP Shane Greene (C) 3 3 27 65 65 8.54 3.27 4.25 1.35
RHP Joe Jimenez 3 3 6 65 65 10.14 3.65 3.97 1.28

Not much to see here. Vegas has the Tigers projected for 69 wins so there will not be a lot of Ws for your fantasy SPs. Michael Fulmer won 11 games in 2016 when he was locating his pitches and forcing a lot of ground balls. He has battled injuries and inconsistency the past two seasons. His BB/9 and HR/9 spiked last year in his worst season to date. Similar to Castellanos, he is a potential trade chip if he can string some quality starts together to start the season. Matt Boyd has the most upside of the group. Boyd is a big lefty that could rack up 170 Ks if things break right for him. Local beat writers have stated he has lost 15 pounds after changing his diet and exercise routine. It wouldn’t be a proper preseason post without lamenting that someone is in the best shape of their life during spring training! The fifth rotation spot seems to be open for the taking between Daniel Norris, Matt Moore, and Tyson Ross. The Tigers are hoping Norris, a once hot prospect, famous for living in his van now being haunted by injuries, can stay healthy and reach his front of the rotation potential. He has flashed promise in the past and needs to regain his lost velocity. This might be his last shot in Detroit. Shane Greene is the closer and Joe Jimenez will fill the role if Greene is dealt. Greene had 32 saves last season and in an era of closer uncertainty, he makes for an interesting late round pick. Just don’t watch him pitch or you’ll constantly question why you drafted him, he doesn’t enjoy a clean inning.

Prospects to watch…

Daz Cameron, OF – age 22, very athletic center fielder could be up mid-season, son of Mike Cameron, part of Verlander trade from Houston, potential 20/20 stud

Casey Mize, RHP – age 21, first overall pick in 2018 draft out of Auburn, #36 rank prospect in Baseball Prospectus, will move quickly through the system, future ace, could be up 2020

Jacob Robson, OF – age 24, former Miss St. product, hit .295 in 124 games in AA Erie and AAA Toledo, .298 hitter in three minor league seasons. Look for him to get the call if platoon of JaCoby Jones and Mikie Mahtook don’t produce

Franklin Perez, RHP – age 21, has to be discussed as he was the centerpiece in the Verlander trade from the Astros. Only threw 19 IP in 2018 after suffering lat and shoulder injuries. Will begin season in Class A Lakeland.