2. Detroit Tigers
Yes, the darkened, evil cloud that once resided over Houston has now leaked its way to Detroit, and after one surprising season spent flirting with .500, AJ Hinch is prepared to engage Evil Empire mode.
Do not count out the Tigers on Carlos Correa, likely the most logical and nurturing fit under his old manager, as long as they’re willing to drop $300+ million.
Do not count out the Tigers on Justin Verlander. The holdovers from his era of Motor City baseball are already extending their feelers to get him to finish out his career in Big D.
Do not count out the Tigers on … Eduardo Rodriguez! Jon Morosi claimed this week that assistant pitching coach Juan Nieves, a former mentor on the Red Sox, could lead the charge here.
Clearly, Detroit is diversifying their options, but they’re scariest in the Correa market if they genuinely believe their feisty second half indicates they’re a few centerpiece-type additions away from competing for the AL Central. And why wouldn’t they be? The young pitching nucleus of Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal is under contract at a ridiculously reasonable rate. They’re building for the immediate future with the baseball equivalent of a quarterback on a rookie contract.
You don’t hire AJ Hinch if you’re not trying to win. That move allowed him to rehabilitate his image quietly for one season as the team pursues winning avenues for 2022 and beyond, and that process would seem to begin in earnest with a major, public Correa offer. Let’s see if Brian Cashman can one-up them.