Evaluating the AL Central Windows: Detroit

We recently wrapped up the SB Nation Offseason Simulation over at Royals Review and, frankly, it’s become one of my favorite little offseason activities. I had the White Sox this year and while I was looking at their roster and prospects, it made me curious to further evaluate the rest of the AL Central to see when other teams may try to “go for it” and how their next competitive window lines up with the Royals imminent window that should be opening in 2023.

I’ve already written about Chicago, Minnesota, and Cleveland. You can follow the links to their write ups. Today we are going to talk about the team that I believe will be the biggest threat to the Royals on their journey to the playoffs over the next 6-7 years: the Detroit Tigers.

Here is a quick look at the core of the Tigers roster heading into 2022, their age on Opening Day, and the year in which that player becomes a free agent:

  • Matthew Boyd, 31, 2022
  • Michael Fulmer, 29, 2022
  • Jeimer Candelario, 28, 2023
  • Spencer Turnbull, 29, 2024
  • Victor Reyes, 27, 2024
  • Tyler Alexander, 27, 2025
  • Gregory Soto, 27, 2025
  • Eduardo Rodriguez, 29, 2026
  • Eric Haase, 29, 2026
  • Derek Hill, 26, 2026
  • Tarik Skubal, 25, 2026
  • Casey Mize, 24, 2026
  • Isaac Paredes, 23, 2026
  • Akil Baddoo, 23, 2026
  • Matt Manning, 24, 2027

Here’s a list of their top prospects that are getting pretty close to the big leagues and could be contributors both in 2022 and the long-term:

  • Riley Greene
  • Spencer Torkelson
  • Joey Wentz
  • Dillon Dingler

That lineup may not look as fearsome as I made it out to be at the moment, but I am legitimately terrified that the Tigers are going to sign Carlos Correa to play SS for them for the next 10 years or so. That young pitching core with Correa and two of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball is going to be a really nice team. The Tigers have always had more money to spend than the Royals, similarly to the White Sox, so it’s easier for them to fill holes in their lineup (like SS) in free agency than it is for the Royals. I actually think the Royals young core is better than the Tigers, but the Tigers will be able to make up for that gap with money while their window is open.

The Tigers and the Royals are on strikingly similar paths. Both teams have had a wave of young starting pitchers reach the big leagues in the last year or two. Both teams have super prospects that got playing time in AAA this past summer and should be making their debuts in 2022. Detroit won 77 games in 2021 while Kansas City won 74. The White Sox are enjoying their reign as the beasts of the AL Central for now, but I truly believe this division will run through Kansas City and Detroit within a few seasons.

To conclude:

  1. Detroit and KC are on strikingly similar paths that should lead to some heavyweight bouts in 2024.
  2. KC may have the better core at present, but the Tigers have more money to spend to fill holes in their lineup.
  3. Detroit probably poses the biggest threat to KC in the ALC once the White Sox start to lose some of their current core.

We’ll take an extensive look at the Royals next and determine what their window most realistically looks like compared to the rest of the AL Central.

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