Dombrowski on closer: “Our outlook has not changed”

Does this sound like a familiar scenario: The Tigers say they’re set at a particular position, one where prominent agent Scott Boras has a well-known free agent looking for a market. Boras bypasses team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski and talks with owner Mike Ilitch. The Tigers abruptly change course and get involved.

It happened three winters ago with Johnny Damon. Could it be happening right now with Rafael Soriano? With Tuesday’s report from MLB Network’s Peter Gammons that Boras talked with Ilitch about Soriano on Monday, you have to wonder.

Here’s the report from Gammons on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show this morning:

The Tigers have maintained that they’d like to give hard-throwing rookie Bruce Rondon a chance to win the closer’s job, though Dombrowski said they could still take a look at the market later and could add somebody under the right scenario.

Dombrowski reaffirmed that approach when reached Tuesday.

“Our outlook has not changed,” Dombrowski replied in an email.

In fairness, the Tigers initially downplayed the rumors about Damon a few years ago, only to reach a deal six weeks later. So eventually, maybe they’ll do the same with Soriano. If it happens, though, it doesn’t sound like it’s imminent. With the notable exception of Prince Fielder, no Boras deal ever seems to be quick.

All along, the expectation was that Boras would try to get the Tigers — and especially Ilitch — involved on Soriano. The question has always been whether Ilitch would listen. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reported a couple weeks ago that it already happened, and that Ilitch said no. Others have reported that it hadn’t happened yet but they expected it to come. ESPN’s Buster Olney cited executives from other teams expecting it to happen.

That doesn’t mean Soriano will get the kind of massive deal that he wants, one that torpedoes the Tigers’ long-term plans for Rondon. Time will tell if there’s a compromise to be found somewhere in there.

– Jason Beck

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