The 2018 season was short for Miguel Cabrera, who had just 157 PA, and had his lowest ISO numbers in his career. Early reports are that he had a successful surgery for his bicep tendon, and is expected to be 100% heading into Spring Training. While the days of prime Cabrera are over, he is still a solid bat in the middle of the order. Over the age of 30, the home runs will look limited, but hovering around 20 HR with a .280 average would be a big success. He also helps those around him in the order. Projections for a truly healthy Cabrera sit around those numbers, with room for more. If Cabrera deals with nagging injuries which have happened in the last few seasons, then we will continue to see depressed power stats and the overall numbers will be below league average.
Detroit has one of the worst rotations in baseball, and the devoted money to Jordan Zimmermann is still one of the poorer moves in baseball over the last few seasons. Michael Fulmer broke into the league in 2016, and put together two sub-four ERA seasons, before going down with a major knee injury in 2018. He has made a full recovery, and is expected back for a full year in 2019. Fulmer isn’t a flashy arm, but has pinpoint control, and can provide consistency if he can stay healthy. Detroit added Tyson Ross, which is a good move consider he is an upgrade over most in the rotation. Ross has had an injury plagued career due to the heavy slider usage, but when he is on he can be a successful arm. Walks will be there given his pitch usage, but a low four ERA arm with some strikeout upside is worth the $5 million to put in the back half of the order. Ross isn’t a part of the future but deserves to be a rotational arm while Detroit rebuilds.
The Tigers had one of the worst farm systems in the league, and were a team that splashed cash during the late 2000s. They missed their window, and are now trying to rebuild through youth given they still have money tied up and are not one to go further in debt. 2019 isn’t going to be a year we see prospects in Detroit, but 2020 should be. Case Mize and Matt Manning are two pitchers that have a bright future, but are very young. Mize is destined to get to the bigs soon, and is one of the younger pitchers to keep an eye on. He is a top 20 prospect in baseball, and Manning isn’t far behind at #53. Detroit’s prospects are mostly pitchers, so the rotation looks to be in good shape for the future, but they lack bats in the farm system. That will be an area to fill in through free agency or trades, and hope some of the younger names already with the Tigers hit their stride.