How the AL Central is reacting to the Tigers

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After a somewhat slow start a season ago, the Detroit Tigers really hit their stride and put away the Chicago White Sox in a two-team race in the AL Central. The Royals, Indians and Twins all finished well below .500 and the due to that the division continues to be labeled as one of the weakest in baseball. With Detroit looking like the clear-cut favorites again in 2013, how have the other four teams tried to improve?

Both Cleveland and Kansas City have both made some moves to improve their 2013 squads, making some key free agent signings as well as some trades they felt confident about. The biggest names are James Shields and Wade Davis, who should both help the Royals pitching staff quite a bit this upcoming season. Most of their offensive firepower has been homegrown, but their luck with starting pitching has not worked out too well. Some criticized them for giving up Wil Meyers to get these guys, but it’s an interesting move by the Royals.

Cleveland has been busy as well, but most of their noise comes from the free agent market. Signing fantasy baseball favorites Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher will give them two guys to hit near the top of their lineup. They are also great veteran leaders who will fit in nicely with new manager Terry Francona. The Indians have also taken low risk, high reward flyers out on the likes of Jason Giambi, Mark Reynolds, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. They were able to pull all this off without sacrificing any of their top prospects. In fact, they picked up a good one along the way, getting Trevor Bauer to bolster their pitching staff.

Minnesota might not be making the type of noise fans were hoping for, but their more long-term approach could pay off in the upcoming seasons. The Twins have farm system rich with talent, headlined by the likes of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Kyle Gibson and Aaron Hicks. All of those guys project to be above-average MLB players, but for right now, the Twins might still be a year away from truly competing for the playoffs again. The health of Mauer and Morneau is always going to play a major role for them, but the talent they have in their farm system is reason enough to be optimistic about the future.

Finally, the White Sox were the only legitimate contenders with the Tigers a season ago, and they figure to be their biggest threat this year as well. The problem is, a lot of people feel as though they haven’t done enough to make their team better in the offseason. A few under the radar moves like signing Matt Lindstrom for the bullpen and Jeff Keppinger to play third base might be the little tweaks they need. If Alex Rios, Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn can all provide the same type of value as they did a year ago, the Tigers will not simply coast to the title. In fact, all four teams, albeit by different methods, are going after the current top team in the division.

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