Oct 3, 2010, 1:03 PM EDT
Speaking before Sunday’s season finale, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said he would not re-sign Johnny Damon or Gerald Laird this winter and that Magglio Ordonez’s $15 million option would be declined.
Dombrowski also indicated that it was unlikely Jeremy Bonderman would be back, but that the team was in talks with fellow free-agent-to-be Brandon Inge about a multiyear deal.
The closest thing to a surprise here is that the Tigers are ruling out Damon, who declined a trade to the Red Sox in August in part because he was happy in Detroit. Damon has given the Tigers their $8 million worth this year while hitting .271/.355/.401 with 11 steals in 536 at-bats.
Ordonez’s option was sure to be declined, but the Tigers will have some interest in re-signing him to a smaller deal. The 36-year-old hit .303/.378/.474 in 323 at-bats before going down with an ankle injury this year.
Getting more athletic in the outfield will likely be a priority for Detroit this winter. Austin Jackson looks like a Gold Glove-quality center fielder, but it’d still help to have him surrounded by better defenders than Damon and Ordonez. Brennan Boesch could play left or right regularly, but he doesn’t figure to be handed a job after his extremely rough second half. The Tigers figure to bring in at least one veteran outfielder this winter even if they re-sign Ordonez.
The other matters were pretty clear cut. Inge, who is finishing up a four-year, $24 million contract, won’t get such a long deal this time, but he might command a similar annual salary. The Tigers like his play at third base even though his offensive numbers don’t really stack up. Laird was sure to be forced out, and the team will find someone else to pair with young Alex Avila in 2011. Bonderman may be offered a minor league deal to return and battle for the fifth spot in the rotation, but he’ll surely seek guaranteed money elsewhere.
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