How Tigers can take the next step 

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
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Max ScherzerHannah Foslien/Getty ImagesMax Scherzer is going to be expensive, but Detroit must give him an extension.
The Detroit Tigers were swept in the 2012 World Series by the San Francisco Giants four games to none and this year weren't able to get back after losing in the American League Championship Series to the Boston Red Sox. This despite the fact that the Tigers had a better team this year than last year with a healthy Victor Martinez at DH, improved defense in right field thanks to Torii Hunter, an impact closer in Joaquin Benoit, and a fully developed Max Scherzer, who should win the AL Cy Young Award next month.

The Tigers head to the offseason knowing their core is intact for another run in 2014. All five members of the rotation -- Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello -- are signed for 2014, and the same can be said for their lineup core including: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Martinez, Hunter, Alex Avila and shortstop Jose Iglesias.

But as the Red Sox showed, the Tigers still have some weaknesses. Here is how GM Dave Dombrowski can shore them up for 2014.

1. Tough decisions on free agents

Benoit developed into one of the American League's best closers this year, and the Tigers would like to bring him back. The good news for them is that there are a number of other closers set to be available as free agents, such as Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour, so they have options if Benoit signs elsewhere. The Tigers could hand the job to Bruce Rondon, but I'm guessing they will sign someone with more of a track record.