This is in no way meant to be a joke: The Detroit Tigers might be a good baseball team in 2022.
Detroit got an early start on a potentially pivotal offseason when it reportedly got free agent pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to agree to a five-year contract worth up to $80 million. In a vacuum, that move does help a rotation that ranked 20th in wins above replacement in 2020, as Rodriguez — while not spectacular — is a dependable veteran left-hander who instantly makes the Tigers better.
But the Rodriguez move is also significant for what it represents: a tangible commitment to improving a Detroit organization that hasn’t won more than 77 games since 2016.
Adding Rodriguez (and to a lesser extent the Tucker Barnhart trade) signals the next natural step in an ongoing rebuild that already shows signs of promise. The 2021 Tigers, under manager A.J. Hinch, won 77 games and were three games over .500 following an awful 8-19 April. The seeds for a solid rotation have been planted. In his first full big league season, former No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize logged 150 solid innings, finishing the year with a 3.71 ERA atop the rotation. Alongside the likes of Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning and Tyler Alexander, there’s plenty to dream about when it comes to the pitching.
That alone makes the Tigers a worthwhile bet in the American League Central where they’ll likely start the season just behind the Chicago White Sox in odds to win the division.
But the Tigers might also be an intriguing World Series bet for 2022.
BetMGM (New Jersey): 50-1
Granted, it might be a year or two early on the Tigers, but getting 50-1 on them likely won’t last long. In fact, things could change quite quickly, as Detroit is looked at as a team ready to be aggressive this winter. The Rodriguez signing confirms as much, but the Tigers might just be getting started. They’ve been consistently linked to free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa, as few teams have as glaring of a hole anywhere on the diamond as Detroit does at shortstop. Correa also knows Hinch quite well from their days in Houston, and signing the superstar would instantly improve the lineup as well as a defense that finished 29th in defensive runs saved last season.
Signing a big-name free agent like Correa, improving the defense on the margins and perhaps adding another veteran starter (perhaps a homecoming for Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer?) certainly would go a long way in improving the Tigers’ short- and long-term outlook and would certainly get them back into the title conversation at much shorter odds than they have this moment.