Key Additions: OF Yoenis Cespedes, P Alfredo Simon, OF Anthony Gose
Cespedes is the “big splash” of the offseason for the Tigers, but the Cuban outfielder’s production has not lived up to his name recognition in previous seasons. At 26, Cespedes made a significant imprint on baseball as a rookie in Oakland, posting a .292/.356/.505 slash line with 23 home runs, but since then, he has put together a sub-par on-base percentage of just .298 across two seasons, and that is undoubtedly a concern as he arrives in Detroit.
On the run prevention side, Alfredo Simon could prove to be an important piece of the rotation. Simon will turn 34 this season, but he had been a virtual journeyman until the 2014 campaign, when he threw 196.1 quality innings with the Cincinnati Reds. Simon isn’t a strikeout pitcher by any stretch (5.82 K/9 in 2014), but he must provide meaningful innings for a Detroit rotation that appears to be top-heavy, and the Tigers paid a reasonably significant price to acquire him.
Key Subtractions: P Max Scherzer, P Rick Porcello, OF Torii Hunter
The aforementioned loss of Scherzer will be felt, simply because of how dominant he was in a Tigers uniform. The powerful right-hander posted a 39-8 record with a 3.02 ERA and 10.2 strikeouts per 9 innings over the past two seasons in Detroit, earning Cy Young honors in 2013 and anchoring a rotation that was in a bit of turmoil, especially in 2014. The absence of Scherzer and rotation mate Rick Porcello should be one of the more important things to focus on for Detroit, and the team’s ability to replace that stability could be the difference between earning a playoff spot and spending October at home.
Offensively, losing Torii Hunter isn’t the end of the world, but in the same breath, Detroit’s lineup is unquestionably worse without him penciled in the middle of it. The now 39-year-old isn’t the same player that he once was in Minnesota, but Hunter blasted a combined 34 home runs over the past two seasons while hitting .295 with a .456 slugging percentage, and he is reliable in every sense.
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