People will suggest Prince Fielder, but he is clearly not a fit at this point. Miguel Cabrera will eventually be a DH, but that time is not now, especially with two more guaranteed years coming to Martinez. What the Tigers are looking for is a power hitter who can DH for them for one season, and perhaps outperform his contract. If the Tigers wanted to go with a low budget option, (perhaps they take on Matt Garza and his contract and feel they have reached their budget) players like Derrick Lee, Johnny Gomes, Pat Burrell, Russell Branyan, Casey Kotchman and Eric Chavez are still available. Out of that list, only Kotchman was a regular player last season. For a minor league contract maybe Dan Johnson or Mike Jacobs, though either or both could sign regardless of who the Tigers add.
Without further due, here are the top six players that are still on the free agent market that could help the Tigers sudden need at the DH position.
6. Cody Ross: Ross was a 4th round draft pick by the Tigers in 1999. I saw him as a fit in Cincinnati but they signed Ryan Ludwick. Ross is an ok outfielder so in addition to DHing, he can spell the outfielders including centerfielder Austin Jackson. In a full season, he's good for 20 HR and 80 RBI and should hit about .270.
5. Raul Ibanez: Ibanez had a strong finish to the 2011 season after he looked finished through the first part of the season. An American League team would be to his liking, as his legs will benefit from DHing. A refreshed Ibanez has a huge upside, and will certainly benefit from batting behind Cabrera. The only concern is his age, and at 40 there is concern of how much he actually has left.
4. Hideki Matsui: There was a big dropoff, production wise, from Matsui in 2011. In 141 games in Oakland, he hit a career low .251 with 12 HR and 72 RBI. He has been a machine throughout his career, and the fact that he is as clutch as they come could entice Detroit here. A couple of years younger than Ibanez, but there is still a question of how much he has left.
3. Vladimir Guerrero: One thing you know about Guerrero is that he will hit. The .290 he hit last year was a career low and he would certainly add depth to the Tigers batting order. Similar to Matsui and Ibanez, he should thrive in the middle of the lineup but is a better hitter than the other two at their stages of their careers.
2. Johnny Damon: When Damon played for Detroit in 2010, he actually had a down season. He hit .271 with 8 HR and 51 RBI. For Tampa Bay in 2011, he hit .261 with 16 HR and 73 RBI. Approximately two healthy seasons away from 3000 hits, he could return to a job he just had, Tigers DH. He can hit in several parts of the batting order, and though he is not known for his defense by any stretch of the imagination, he could spell a corner OF if needed. He seems healthy, which gives him a slight edge over Guerrero.
1. Carlos Pena: I like Pena for a couple of reasons. Not for his batting average, which was low even when he played for Detroit from 2002-2005. He has a good eye at the plate and he can have a scary season if he gets on a roll. He is also the youngest on this list and can spell Cabrera at 1B if necessary. A return to the AL and a chance to DH could get the Tigers a big season from Pena. Last year, he hit .225 with 28 HR and 80 RBI which is the least of what he will do. Amongst this list, he has the most upside. I had him slated for Milwaukee, but I see him as a bigger fit in Detroit.