Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
Given the long list of free agents or potential free agents the Tigers have going into this off-season, it should be no surprise to hear that at least a couple of them won't be back. While Jeremy Bonderman and Gerald Laird have both worked hard for the club and given the organization a lot, especially Bonderman, it appears that the value they could hold on the open market likely out-weighs their value to the Tigers, and so they're both good bets to exit and end up elsewhere. Likewise, Johnny Damon gave the Tigers a quality professional hitter for the lineup, and showed loyalty to the club this past August by turning down a trade opportunity to go to the Red Sox, but given the number of young outfielders the Tigers have, as well as the need for a big bat, I don't expect to see Damon back in a Tigers' uniform either. Moving on, the Tigers have a pair of position players with options in Jhonny Peralta and Magglio Ordonez. Given the cost of the options, I don't think the Tigers will exercise either, however, I think the Tigers will attempt to resign both at a reduced rate, and will be successful in bringing back both. Finally, quite possibly the most difficult decision comes down on third baseman Brandon Inge, who has been a member of the organization since he was drafted more than 12 years ago. Inge still provides the club excellent defense, but for a team desperate to upgrade its offense, pursuing a top flight free agent like Adrian Beltre could be an option. Ultimately, I think the Tigers will pursue Beltre, but come up short, and instead bring Inge back on a short term contract.
Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
Trying to predict the Tigers off-season appears to be a daunting task this year, and I can honestly say I'm not confident in any of the thoughts or ideas I have. The Tigers list of free agents is likely to include Brandon Inge, Johnny Damon, Jeremy Bonderman, and Magglio Ordonez, and could also include the likes of Bobby Seay and Zach Miner if they are not offered arbitration, or Johnny Peralta if his option is not picked up by the team. Working just with the list of four known free agents at season's end, there is a good chance at least two of them return. Though the Tigers have stuck by him through a couple of tough years dealing with injuries and recovery, I'm not sure they will be bringing Jeremy Bonderman back, unless it happens in conjunction with a drastic pay cut. Magglio Ordonez is likely in a similar boat as far as pay cuts go, but the he has been a popular player in Detroit, still demonstrates good hitting ability, and may be a very viable offensive option for a team in dire need of offense. If his pride doesn't get in the way, and he is willing to accept a reasonable contract offer, he could easily be back in Detroit. The same can probably be said for both Brandon Inge and Johnny Damon. Damon's tenure has been brief, but by all accounts he has been well-received by the team and is still a solid player; though not the player he once was. If he is again willing to accept a one-year deal, he could come in as a part time player in left field. The Tigers are sorely lacking in viable third base options for 2011, and unless they are prepared to sink serious cash into Adrian Beltre, their best bet may be the return of another fan favorite. Inge is still a quality defender and he does enough with the bat that he's not an embarassment to run out there everyday. In the end, I think only two of the four Tigers free agents will be back for 2011, and I think those two will be Inge and Ordonez.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
If there is one free agent I expect the Tigers to re-sign, it's Brandon Inge. The Tigers don't really have anyone in the minor leagues that's ready to take over at third, and given the dearth of quality third basemen available in free agency sans Adrian Beltre, I wouldn't be surprised if the Tigers brought back Inge on a cheap one-year deal.
That being said, Inge's return could hedge on what the Tigers do with Jhonny Peralta, or how they plan on making the left side of their infield for 2011. If the Tigers trade for a shortstop, they could pick up Peralta's option and install him at third base, or they could always trade for a third baseman outright.
Of course, there is always the possibility of Inge getting an offer he can't refuse from another team and departing that way as well, so it will be interesting to see how everything plays itself out.
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