The Tigers finalized a two-year, $26 million contract with Torii Hunter yesterday, but they might not be done shopping for outfielders.
While Hunter is expected to be the regular right fielder next season, left field isn’t nearly as settled. The most likely approach is a platoon, but Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told Jason Beck of MLB.com that he would prefer to see top prospects Nick Castellanos and Avisail Garcia play everyday as opposed to being on the weak side of a platoon with Andy Dirks. Quintin Berry and Brennan Boesch are both left-handed, so Dombrowski will likely explore the free agent market for righty bats.
“I don’t really know which way we’ll take that,” he said. “We have our own internal debates if [Andy] Dirks is an everyday player. He hit right-handed pitching very well last year, which is the majority of pitching you face. However, we’re also in a spot with the young guys, [Nick] Castellanos and [Avisail] Garcia, you don’t want them to come in here and play 40 games versus left-handed pitching.
“My instinct,” Dombrowski continued, “is that we would add somebody that could hit from the right-hand side that, if those guys don’t make it, could go out there and play with Dirks. But we’ll wait and see.”
Scott Hairston and Jonny Gomes stand out among right-handed hitting mashers, but they are believed to be looking for multi-year contracts. Adding a veteran like Andruw Jones or Reed Johnson could make some sense.
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.