Owners of the #1 pick in next year’s draft, it’s safe to say the Tigers are in the middle of a very painful rebuild- their farm system still isn’t great and they have little to zero trade chips on their major league roster. So, what should general manager Al Avila do? Outside of shopping starting pitcher Matthew Boyd and buying low on some cheap veteran fill-ins, there’s not a lot he can do. In other words, this will be a very quiet offseason for Detroit.
Expected Direction: Little To Zero Activity Considering The Tough State of Their Rebuild
Tigers Sign C Austin Romine
Contract Details: One Year, $4.1 Million
Filling the hole behind the plate that they were looking to address, the Tigers have signed veteran catcher Austin Romine to a one-year contract, which will be worth around $4.1 million. Romine, 31, was able to carve out a role for himself as New York’s backup catcher the last two years, posting a combined 2.2 WAR; his role was slightly larger with Gary Sanchez missing time with various injuries. He’s been a relatively league-average hitter, which is great for a catcher, and is a slightly above-average defender; he’s the epitome of an average player. Other than being the exact model of the Tigers’ preference for players with no upside, Romine is actually a decent fit for Detroit, as he’ll provide a nice veteran presence and stability at catcher before hopefully being the backup to prospect Jake Rodgers; he’s not Alex Avila or Robinson Chirinos, who they had been reported to be interested in, but he’ll get the job done.
Tigers Sign 2B Jonathan Schoop
Contract Details: One Year, $6.1 Million
Hoping to be more competitive next season, the Tigers have signed bounce-back candidate Jonathan Schoop to a one-year deal worth $6.1 million. Few players have had as turbulent of an early career as the 28-year-old Schoop. In 2017, he posted a 3.7 fWAR and looked like a future star, before coming back down to earth in 2018 and flopping after being traded to the Brewers. Then, in 2019 with the Twins, he was essentially a league-average player, as evidenced by his precise 100 weighted-runs-created plus (wrc+, 100 is average). Schoop’s high ground-ball rates and lack of plate discipline have been primary causes in him not reaching his offensive potential, and defensively, he’s pretty much average as well. There’s honestly not much to get excited about with him, and I doubt he ends up being a trade-chip in the future, but for Detroit, he’ll actually be one of their best position players, which is a positive.
Tigers Sign 1B CJ Cron
Contract Details: One Year, $6.1 Million
In conjunction with signing Schoop, the Tigers have signed another former Twin, bringing in first baseman CJ Cron on a one-year contract worth the same amount. Similar, to Schoop, the veteran first baseman is a bounce-back candidate, and also is an effort for them to improve on their historically bad offense from last season. However, unlike Schoop, the 29-year-old Cron may actually provide excess value for them. In the first half of last season, he was a huge part of the Twins’ record-setting offense, posting a 112 wrc+ and a .821 OPS. However, as he dealt with a thumb injury, his offensive numbers declined significantly, and as a result, his wrc+ declined to 101- he had just a 0.3 WAR. Obviously, as low OBP and poor defensive first baseman, he’s not a very valuable commodity (he’s on his fourth team in as many seasons), but considering that his .366 expected weighted-on base average (xWOBA) was much higher than his actual .324 wOBA, there’s plenty of bounce-back potential. At the very least, he’ll likely lead Detroit in home runs; their leader in home runs last season, Brandon Dixon, had just 15.
Tigers Sign SP Ivan Nova
Contract Details: One Year, $1.5 Million ($500K Incentives)
Adding some much-needed rotation depth, the Tigers have signed veteran starting pitcher Ivan Nova to a one-year, $1.5 million deal, with $500K in incentives. Nova, 33, had a poor season last year, posting a 4.91 xFIP. Notably, his command was still fine (2.26 BB/9), but regressed slightly, and that didn’t work well with an even greater decrease to his strikeout rate (5.49 K/9). In the end, the 6’5″, 250-pound righty is a #5 starter at best, but he provides some nice stability and innings for a rebuilding team, so this is a good fit.
Tigers Sign OF Cameron Maybin
Contract Details: One Year, $1.5 Million (w/$1.3 Million Incentives)
Finally signing a major-league caliber outfielder to their roster, the Tigers have brought in outfielder Cameron Maybin on a one-year contract worth $1.5 million, and with another $1.3 million in incentives. Coming off of a strong season as a depth piece for the Yankees, the 32-year-old Maybin returns the team he spent the 2016 season. In fact, his one year with the Tigers represents the second-best season of his career in terms of WAR (2.4), though since then, he’s only been worth a combined 3.3 WAR. It’s obvious that he overachieved last season, based on his .365 BABIP and .36 point gap in wOBA (.363) and xwOBA (.337), though at the same time, he did make legitimate improvements; he increased his launch angle, and also had a much higher barrel rate and average exit velocity. He’s essentially an average all-around player, but for Detroit, that means he’ll be one of their top performers. For $1.5 million with some incentives? I’ll definitely take that.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Tigers Make