Last Night's Game
Boston 5, Detroit 2 (Boston wins series 4-2)
The Tigers took the lead in the sixth inning with two runs, though they certainly should have scored more. With runners on first and third, Jhonny Peralta grounded into a rather unconventional double play that ended up with this:
Well, in the bottom of the seventh, the Red Sox took advantage of the opening. After Max Scherzer was pulled with one out and two on. Drew Smyly got Jacoby Ellsbury to hit a ball that should have been turned into a double play, but Jose Iglesias (who had last inning been inserted into the game for defensive purposes) booted the ball and everyone was safe. That brought Shane Victorino to the plate and Jose Veras into the game, and once again, the Red Sox stunned the Tigers with a late-inning grand slam. Boston is now heading to the World Series to face the St. Louis Cardinals.
What does this portend for the Tigers and the AL Central? Obviously the Tigers are not going away, and if anything this loss will make them even more aggressive on the free agent/trade market this winter. The Tigers have some free agents dropping off the payroll (such as Joaquin Benoit and LGFT Jhonny Peralta) but by and large all their main cogs are coming back. Max Scherzer will in his last arbitration season, so he'll get a huge increase from his $6.72M salary this year (and with Scott Boras as his agent, he won't be signing an extension). Doug Fister and Rick Porcello are also due large arbitration increases, plus there's Austin Jackson and Alex Avila. In otheer words, if the Tigers don't do a thing their payroll is going up. For that reason there was some speculation that the Tigers would entertain offers for Max Scherzer, but I just see that happening. Prince Fielder was only worth 1.7 bWAR this season, but he isn't going anywhere with that contract.
Yeah, it's the standard "I want to stay in Cleveland" articles about a pending free agent. There's a possibility that Shaw could stay in Cleveland given that Chris Perez is likely gone, but Smith is going to be one of the most sought-after relievers on the free agent market (including closers) and the Indians usually don't re-sign those type of players after they go out on the market.
AL Central News
A deeper look at the Jose Abreu signing. With not much power hitting on the market, Abreu might represent the best of the bunch signed this winter, and it might be by a large margin.
With Jeff Manto fired by the White Sox earlier this month, there was an ex-Indians hitting coach hole to be filled. Well, worry no longer, as Kevin Seitzer is likely to become the next Toronto Blue Jays hitting coach.
One of the advantages to having a terrible season (let's face it, there aren't many) is that you can splurge on the free agent market without giving up a first round pick. The Indians used this to their advantage last year with the Swisher and Bourn signings (both of whom would have the Indians' first round pick had it not been protected) and the Twins are in the same boat this year.
So a team partly owned by Magic Johnson offered a Magic Johnson-type deal to the best pitcher in baseball. Why did Kershaw table the deal? I don't think it was because he thought it too small, but because he was overwhelmed by it. Kershaw can be a free agent after the 2014 season, so I'd expect negotiations to continue this winter.