Tigers, Rogers exploring options
For free agent, scenarios include a return to Rangers
DETROIT -- The Tigers didn't wait long to fill a lot of their needs already this offseason. By all indications, they're not going to wait long on Kenny Rogers.
Tuesday was the first day Rogers and his agent, Scott Boras, could discuss potential contracts and receive formal offers from other clubs, but it was also the first day Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski could talk contracts with free agents from other teams. Both parties appeared to be looking at their scenarios.
For Rogers, the scenarios include a potential return to his old club. In this case, however, the old club could be the Texas Rangers, a possibility few could've imagined after Rogers left as a free agent two years ago.
Rogers signed with the Tigers two years ago after he and the Rangers parted ways. An incident with a television cameraman and an ensuing suspension were part of a difficult 2005 season that strained relations between Rogers and the club. When asked about Rogers, however, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told MLB.com that they could be interested in bringing him back, though they have yet to make a contract offer.
"We'd be open to it under the right circumstances," Daniels said. "Obviously, finances would be a part of it. But I'd only want it to be a positive homecoming."
Rogers was asked toward the end of this past season, when he was still debating whether or not he would pitch at all next season, about the chance he could return to the Rangers. He dismissed the possibility, but there was no way for him to know at the time that Texas could be interested. That might explain Rogers' willingness to listen to interest from other teams once he declared for free agency a couple of weeks ago and decided he wants to pitch in 2008.
Despite recent history, there are obvious reasons for Rogers to be interested in Texas. He and his family make their home in Westlake, Texas, close to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. And Rogers said his family would be a consideration in his decision whether to return for a 20th Major League season.
Moreover, Texas is Rogers' original organization, the club that first gave him a chance. The Rangers drafted him in the 43rd round in 1982 and made him a pitcher, even though he hadn't pitched in a game as a high school position player in Plant City, Fla. He has had three separate stints with the Rangers, signing back there twice as a free agent after the 1999 and 2002 seasons.
The flip side of that history is that Rogers gives a lot of credit for his development as a pitcher to former Rangers coach Dick Egan, who now works with the Tigers as a special assistant.
Detroit has made two contract offers to Rogers, both believed to be one-year deals, but both of which were declined. The longer the Rogers situation runs, the more uncertain the situation for the Tigers. Dombrowski, however, said they don't look at it as a situation where they need a final answer from Rogers one way or the other. Dombrowski has said more than once that he will be aggressive in trying to find a starting pitcher, whether it's Rogers or someone else.
"If we make a trade, we'll move on," Dombrowski said. "If they sign with a team, they'll move on. But the door remains open."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter T.R. Sullivan contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.