12/09/09 1:40 AM EST
Tigers interested in veteran closers
Team exploring market, keeping tabs on Rodney, Lyon
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Quite the opposite, actually. Team officials would like one, and they're expanding their search after Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon turned down arbitration offers late Monday night. The Tigers remain interested in bringing one of them back, but they're preparing as if both of them will move on.
Whether it's Lyon, Rodney or someone else, the Tigers are hoping to have a veteran reliever.
"It doesn't have to be now," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We didn't sign Brandon Lyon [last winter] until late January, but ideally we'd like to have somebody [experienced] out there, yes."
By adding potential future closer Daniel Schlereth from Arizona and lefty Phil Coke from the Yankees, Detroit further bolstered a group of young relievers that Dombrowski already praised for its potential depth. Ryan Perry was already expected to compete for a setup role next spring, while similar hard-throwing righties Cody Satterwhite and Robbie Weinhardt could crack the big leagues later in the season after getting more seasoning at Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo.
Add in lefty Fu-Te Ni, still-young Zach Miner and a potentially healthy Joel Zumaya, and Detroit's bullpen has the chance to be very deep, very soon. That doesn't, however, mean that any of the names listed are going to take over the late innings completely quite yet.
When asked Monday about procuring an established closer, Dombrowski suggested the Tigers could go a different route. On Tuesday, Dombrowski confirmed team officials were talking with more veteran arms, as well as maintaining contact with Rodney and Lyon.
"Both of them were looking for multi-year deals," Dombrowski said. "They made that clear. We continue to have interest in them, but I'm also sure that they want to explore what's out there, and that's what they're doing. We continue to talk to them and are interested in them."
Whether the Tigers would be willing to offer a multi-year deal just became an interesting question. A trade of Granderson and Jackson will open up payroll space, allowing some much-needed flexibility to address needs. However, it also gives Detroit yet another closing option for the very near future.
The rest of the market is an interesting mix of candidates, and the Tigers are exploring. A FOXSports.com report listed Detroit among clubs interested in free agent J.J. Putz, a trade target of the Tigers last year before the Mariners traded their former closer to the Mets. Any interest would be relatively new; Detroit hadn't so much as talked with Putz's agent as of last week.
Detroit also was reportedly among a handful of teams with early interest in former Cubs closer Kevin Gregg.
"We did talk to a couple people, yes, once we knew that they were not accepting arbitration for sure," Dombrowski said. "Now, we continue to have interest in [Rodney and Lyon], but we also have to start doing our homework. In case they go to other places, we have to be prepared."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.