Diving into the depths: Detroit Tigers

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Detroit Tigers
Rotation
1. Justin Verlander
2. Rick Porcello
3. Max Scherzer
4. Jeremy Bonderman
5. Nate Robertson
6. Armando Galarraga
7. Dontrelle Willis
8. Zach Miner
9. Phil Coke
10. Eddie Bonine
11. Alfredo Figaro
12. Phil Dumatrait
13. Brooks Brown
14. Luis Marte
15. Casey Crosby
While there’s an ace at the top of the rotation and a new stud closer in the pen, the Tigers still have plenty of uncertainty when it comes to their pitching staff. Bonderman will enter camp as the clear favorite for the fourth spot in the rotation if he shows his arm is sound. Robertson and Galarraga would seem to be the chief competitors for the fifth spot, but the door will be open in case Willis surprises. Miner should be the fallback if everyone else struggles.
Bullpen
1. Jose Valverde
2. Joel Zumaya
3. Ryan Perry
4. Phil Coke
5. Bobby Seay
6. Fu-Te Ni
7. Zach Miner
8. Armando Galarraga
9. Nate Robertson
10. Brad Thomas
11. Dontrelle Willis
12. Eddie Bonine
13. Daniel Schlereth
14. Casey Fien
15. Robbie Weinhardt
16. Jay Sborz
17. Enrique Gonzalez
18. Phil Dumatrait
19. Zach Simons
20. Luis Marte
21. Josh Rainwater
The Tigers will have more pitchers than roster spots if everyone gets through camp healthy. That could result in a return to Triple-A for Galarraga and walking papers for Willis. There are an awful lot of health question marks here, though. If Zumaya breaks down or Perry pitches his way back to the minors, then Galarraga might get a look as a setup man. Schlereth and Weinhardt are two others who could climb the list in a hurry.


Catcher
1. Gerald Laird
2. Alex Avila
3. Robinzon Diaz
4. Mike Rabelo
First base
1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Jeff Larish
3. Ryan Strieby
4. Kory Casto
Second base
1. Scott Sizemore
2. Ramon Santiago
3. Ryan Raburn
Third base
1. Brandon Inge
2. Ramon Santiago
3. Ryan Raburn
4. Jeff Larish
5. Don Kelly
Shortstop
1. Adam Everett
2. Ramon Santiago
3. Brent Dlugach
The Tigers appear to be leaning towards keeping the 23-year-old Avila as a part-time catcher, but they do have the option of letting him play regularly in Triple-A and going with Diaz as the backup to Laird. It could well come down to how Laird performs offensively this spring.
Left field
1. Ryan Raburn
2. Carlos Guillen
3. Wilkin Ramirez
4. Clete Thomas
5. Don Kelly
Center field
1. Austin Jackson
2. Casper Wells
3. Clete Thomas
4. Ryan Raburn
Right field
1. Magglio Ordonez
2. Clete Thomas
3. Wilkin Ramirez
4. Ryan Raburn
5. Don Kelly
Designated hitter
1. Carlos Guillen
2. Magglio Ordonez
3. Jeff Larish
4. Ryan Strieby
I considered holding off on the Tigers until the very end just to see if the Johnny Damon deal would get done. Damon would top the depth chart in left field and push Raburn back into a utility role, which would seem to be for the best. Raburn hit like a regular last year, but the Tigers need another hitter they can rely on. With two rookies and the injury-prone Guillen in the lineup, Raburn would still be set to play a major role.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.