By Ashley Dunkak
In trading first baseman Prince Fielder and freeing the Detroit Tigers of his massive contract, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski pulled off a deal few believed could actually happen.
Might Dombrowski have another massive blockbuster up his sleeve? With him, it seems it is always possible.
The biggest free agent this off-season is easily New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. The recipient of five All-Star selections, five Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves, Cano will command a huge sum from whatever team he ends up with. Having batted over .300 seven of his nine years in the majors, Cano might be worth the money.
While the Tigers could use a little more pop in their lineup after dealing Fielder, and while they are one of few teams that could even potentially afford Cano, there are some obvious issues.
First, Detroit just got out from under a massive contract by dealing Fielder. Second, the Tigers received a second baseman, Ian Kinsler, in that trade, filling a void in that position left by free agent Omar Infante.
Is there any way the Tigers would be interested in or be able to secure Cano? For several reasons, it is unlikely.
Financially, it seems next to impossible that Detroit would be able to fork over the amount of money Cano will probably demand. The Tigers’ payroll has been generous, in the top five in the league, but Detroit is also trying to sign extensions with 2013 Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and defending two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera.
Besides the money aspect, Cano’s position is problematic. He and Kinsler both play second, and neither has spent more than a handful of games at another spot.
Even so, could Kinsler conceivably move over to third if the Tigers wanted to bring in Cano? Maybe. More likely, Cano will go elsewhere as Cabrera will stay on the hot corner, freeing up first base for Victor Martinez. Possibly even more probable, Cabrera will move to first and let current outfielder Nick Castellanos return to third.
Before trading away Kinsler, the Rangers had an abundance of infielders, prompting the idea of moving Kinsler into left field. Kinsler apparently did not want to move off second base. Hypothetically, if Kinsler would fill the hole in left, Castellanos could play third, and the Tigers could move Cabrera to first, while Martinez remains a designated hitter.
Long story short, Cano to the Tigers is a long shot – a long, long shot, and that might be for the best.