In a recent email to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowksi, I asked where he would like to improve over the offseason. Personally, I think the Tigers have a solid core of middle relievers, but lack the late inning guys to put the game away. With that said, Dombrowski responded through a media assistant: "...pitching (including the bullpen) and defense." The Tigers have a fairly large payroll and may have trouble convincing the owners to throw in more money.
One step they could make would be to trade either Jeremy Bonderman or Nate Robertson for a pair of prospects with some upside. Both pitchers have failed to take big strides in their pitching and have only hurt the team, especially now with a weaker bullpen. Signing someone like Jon Garland, Ryan Dempster, or Derek Lowe would help the rotation, probably even take some pressure off Justin Verlander.
As for the bullpen, I would not recommend doing what the Orioles did in 2007, signing the three top relievers based on the previous season. Signing a closer, perhaps Brian Fuentes, and then going after a pair of late inning relievers like Juan Cruz, Will Ohman, or maybe even LaTroy Hawkins would do best. They were interested in Michael Wuertz last year, and could pull off a trade this offseason because the Cubs have a lot of depth.
The Tigers currently have Brandon Inge behind the plate. Finding a starter would be nice, maybe Jason Kendall, but in terms of finding a defensive savvy catcher, Paul Bako is your guy. He is one of the best defensive catchers in the games, and has a great reputation of handling his pitchers. If the Tigers were to trade Nate Robertson to the Padres, they could possibly land Khalil Greene and a prospect. They could try Greene at shortstop and if he struggles, call up prospect Danny Worth, who is on the fast track to the big leagues (mostly because the Tigers are rushing him).
The Tigers have a lot of work to do this offseason, especially after finishing in last place when they were predicted to go to the World Series. Dave Dombrowski is smart, and I don't doubt he can make some big steps this offseason to get his team on the right track.
This story was approved by MLB Rumors.