With Placido Polanco moving along to the Philadelphia Phillies, and rookie Scott Sizemore set to break in at second base next year, the Detroit Tigers probably needed as much stability in their middle infield as they could get. They got started on that last week by re-signing shortstop Adam Everett. And now, both second base and shortstop will once again be backed up dependably, as Ramon Santiago has agreed to a new contract with the team.
Santiago signed a two-year, $2.5 million deal. This also prevents him from having to go through salary arbitration for a new contract with the Tigers (along with free agency after next season).
This year, Santiago batted.267/.318/.385 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs, both career-highs. Perhaps it's not a coincidence that he achieved those numbers in 296 plate appearances (93 games), the second-highest total of his career. He's not Everett or Polanco with the glove, according to metrics such as UZR, but he gives the Tigers dependable defense at those positions, which is pretty much the main requirement for Jim Leyland.
The question with Santiago among many Tigers fans has been whether or not he's capable of being the full-time shortstop. Leyland and Dave Dombrowski have stated their belief that Santiago would wear down under the rigors of a full 162 games. Understandably, fans see the numbers Santiago puts up in limited time, along with a valuable left-handed bat, and wonder what he could do with more plate appearances. But has he been that successful because Leyland uses him correctly?
We may never know the answer to that question, barring an injury to one of the starting middle infielders. But having Santiago around for the next two years should leave those positions in good hands, while the Tigers try to break in some new blood up the middle.
(Thanks to allikazoo for first posting this news in a FanShot)