The winter meetings are quickly coming to a close, and it’s a near-certainty we’ll be flying away from Dallas tomorrow afternoon without the Tigers making any official announcement regarding reliever Octavio Dotel. It appears down to Detroit and St. Louis.
I wouldn’t be stunned if Dotel is choosing between a one-year offer from the Cardinals or a contract with the Tigers that would be for two years, or at least one year with a second-year option.
He’s 38. Years on the contract have to matter.
While we wait on Dotel’s decision, there are a couple observations worth making on other potential Tigers targets.
* The Marlins’ money has to run out eventually. At least, you’d think. And one more big free-agent signing just may take them out of the sweepstakes for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. That’d be one less team the Tigers have to compete with for what’s believed to be their top offseason target.
The Marlins have spent money like they just won Mega Millions.
Between manager Ozzie Guillen, closer Heath Bell, shortstop Jose Reyes and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle, they’ve spent more than $200 million this offseason. And, by all indications, they’re not headed for the checkout lane just yet. They missed out on first baseman Albert Pujols, but that might lead them to Prince Fielder. They also apparently are still in on C.J. Wilson, even after signing Buehrle. Fielder and Wilson are long shots to land in Miami, but if the Marlins reel in either one, it might finally end the shopping spree.
If the Marlins come up empty, however, that could lead to a full-throttle push for Cespedes. Miami has such a glaring hole in center field, there had been rumblings shortstop Hanley Ramirez would move there instead of to third.
We don’t how exactly how this Cespedes saga will unfold, but this appears certain: He’s going to cost tens of millions. Obviously, if the Marlins are in on the bidding, they’ll submit a competitive — or even mind-blowing — offer. And their warm-weather climate might appeal to Cespedes, more than, say, Detroit or New York. The Yankees also are said to have interest.
* No surprise that Francisco Rodriguez accepted the Brewers’ arbitration offer. The closer’s market collapsed on him, and it became clear there’d be no big deal for him. Only one big-money team is looking for a closer, and that’s the Red Sox — who probably have Ryan Madson in their sights (a likely reason why he won’t take the Phillies to arbitration).
So how does the K-Rod decision affect the Tigers? It might not at all, actually.
Except for this: In arbitration, Rodriguez is likely to get a deal for 2012 worth $13 million-plus, and that’s big money the Brewers, no doubt, were praying not to be stuck with. It now could impact their ability to sign other free agents, notably Aramis Ramirez.
Ramirez is the best third baseman (at least offensively) on the market, but doesn’t appear to have countless suitors. The Brewers, early today, were cited as the front-runners to land him, but that was before they got the bad news from K-Rod. The Phillies were said to be really interested in Ramirez earlier in the week, but apparently backed off that pursuit, decided to stick with Placido Polanco at third, and started focusing all their efforts into re-signing shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
That leaves Ramirez, 33, with no obvious destination. And I still believe he would be a fit for the Tigers, if they could get him down to a two-year or three-year deal with some injury protections. A short-term deal didn’t seem likely not long ago. Now, though, he might be running out of options — and perhaps soon will wish he hadn’t turn down a $16 million option to play another year for the Cubs.
Certainly, Ramirez signing with the Tigers is a stretch. But with Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski, you learn to never say never.