"His situation is a little different, because we have that option sitting there, so we're in a spot where that kind of leads you to some negotiations and conversations leading up to that time period. But we're not there yet."
They won't have to dig through the phone book to get there. Peralta has the same agents as Inge. So when the Tigers reached an agreement on a two-year, $11.5 million deal with Inge with a club option for a third year, the thought process logically turned to Peralta.
The Tigers, in turn, did nothing to discourage that thought, talking about how Inge's defensive skills complement Peralta's skill set.
"It gives us stability at third base," Dombrowski said of Inge's contract, "but we're also in a spot where we've talked about shortstop. We're in a spot where we're trying to do something there. I think if we can get Jhonny Peralta, and we can bring him back, we've talked about having Brandon and Jhonny on that side of the infield. You're talking about two real quality players.
"Brandon's defense and his range would complement Jhonny. He's got more of an average-type range at shortstop with good hands, but with Brandon's defense over there, they would be a good complement to one another. And you also get some offense from those two spots.
"So it's a good start for us, and then all of a sudden if we get that situation done and then we've got [Miguel] Cabrera, and we know we're going to stick with the young guys in the middle of the diamond at second base, competing with Carlos Guillen depending on his health, all of a sudden ... the infield is pretty well set."
Very few would have envisioned Inge and Peralta as a package deal when the Tigers acquired the latter from the Indians in late July. Considering Peralta's full-time move to third base with the Indians a year before, they appeared more like competitors. But by playing them alongside each other down the stretch, the Tigers discovered that the pairing works.
Inge has said repeatedly he likes playing beside Peralta.
"I am hopeful [Peralta returns], and I think everyone in the organization feels the same way," Inge said. "Just from what little time that we played with him, he's a class act. He plays hard. He's got some of the best hands I've ever seen. And he and I worked well together, which is strange. You'd think there [would] be a language barrier, but we worked well. He relays offspeed pitches to me, and it takes two seconds for me to look at him and figure out where we're going to position ourselves. I know exactly how far I have to go to help him out. He knows how far he can cover up the middle. It just meshed really quickly with us. I'm glad to have him."
Though Dombrowski has talked more than once now about talking with Peralta's agents about a new deal, he has not ruled out picking up the option.