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December 14, 2012 at 1:55 pm ET
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Right to Work

For those of you who haven’t heard, this week Michigan became the 25th state to pass “Right to Work” legislation. Once the home, and recently the last bastion, of the American labor movement, Michigan now finds one of its greatest legacies eviscerated. Yet, despite this development, one union can look to Michigan and beam with pride at their dominance over the monied interests that run this country – The MLB players’ union.

With today’s announcement that the Tigers have signed Anibal Sanchex to a five-year, $80 million contract, it’s official, the MLB players’ union is the most powerful one in the country. And that was proven right here in the home of organized labor, Detroit, Michigan. So, take that all you commie, pinko, wealth redistributing, class warfarers. It might have just become much harder for middle-class people to earn a living wage in Michigan, but at least 30-year old, middle-class major league starting pitchers can now earn enough to buy a private jet and a small island in the Caribbean. Ain’t America beautiful.

Of course, as a Tigers fan I’m happy to see this. If Mike Illitch wants to pay slightly above-average players like they’re All-Stars (see, Torii Hunter) go right ahead. And who cares if Sanchez is a number three or four starter getting paid like a number two. As long as he’s in the fold and it isn’t my money, go for it. No matter what anyone says about this move from a sabermetric or economic standpoint it gives the Tigers a better chance of winning the World Series in 2013, which, at this point, is obviously all that matters in these calculations.

The Yankees of the Midwest
One thing Tigers fans will now have to acknowledge is that they are officially one of baseball’s big spenders. I know this has been true for a few years now, but having suffered through the 90s and early-00s most of us still cling to the notion that we’re one of the little guys, just another scrappy franchise trying to take down the big boys. However, that is no longer the case, and hasn’t been for some time. Next year the Tigers payroll will be somewhere north of $150 million, probably placing it behind only the Yankees, Dodgers, and Angels. That’s a pretty amazing thing to think about. A decade ago we were at the tail-end of one of the worst runs for any franchise in sports history. Now we’re in the stratosphere of the highest spending teams in sports. Thank you, Mike Illitch.

What’s next?
The most likely next move for the Tigers is to trade Rick Porcello. The one-time phenom, while a solid member of the rotation, has never risen to the level fans expected of him after his excellent debut season four years ago at the age of 20. Now it looks like he’s out the door. The most likely scenario has him going to a rebuilding team, for his sake preferably a National League franchise, and trying to turn his sinker into a dominant pitch. In return, I would expect the Tigers to seek either a fourth outfielder, a relief ace, and/or a prospect or two.

However, I would also like to offer up a much bolder scenario – one I alluded to in a post last week. This is the time for the Tigers to pull off a monster deal with the Marlins for The Artist Formerly Known as Mike Stanton. Outside of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, Stanton is probably the best young talent in the game, and players like that are rarely available. As of right now, the Marlins claim he isn’t being moved, yet his value will never be higher. What’s more, the Tigers are positioned better than any team in baseball, save maybe the Rangers, to pull off this kind of blockbuster.

Let’s look at what the Tigers can put on the table: Nick Castellanos, one of the game’s ten best prospects; Avisail Garcia, an underrated prospect who broke out in the postseason last year; Andy Dirks, a solid regular corner outfielder who will be under team control for the next five years; Rick Porcello or Drew Smyly, both young, affordable starters (though I’d rather trade Porcello).

I’d keep Bruce Rondon off the table, because the Tigers will need him as an option at closer, but that still leaves pitching prospects like Casey Crosby available if the Marlins need another player to push this deal over the top. If the two teams can somehow put this together the Marlins will have completed their tear-down process while collecting several players that should help in 2013 and beyond, and the Tigers will have added the last piece to their World Series puzzle. A middle of the order that features Cabrera, Fielder, Stanton, and Martinez would be pretty unstoppable.

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