The Detroit Tigers have traded for Wilson Betemit, as you've no doubt heard and read. He'll play third base most of the time. Of course, that's Brandon Inge's position. So Inge will play ... ? Well that's a great question. I'm glad you asked.
Before we can consider what will become of Inge, however, we should listen to a few quotes from Tigers CEO/president/GM Dave Dombrowski.
MLB.com reporter Chris Vannini quotes Dombrowski on Twitter:
"I think we’re at the point where playing him every day, we just don’t see it happening right now."
At this point, we’re in a spot where we’ll make a decision once … [Betemit] reports.
Unclear what the question was that spurred that second line. Those are the only quotes we have so far that I can find. Feel free to add additional (and the source) in the comments.
From the Oakland Press's Matthew B Mowery we learn:
Dombrowski said that Betemit will also be the primary third baseman. Would not address whether that was the end of Inge's #Tigers career
One thing we know is that a decision doesn't have to be made right now. Betemit will be joining the Tigers in Minnesota. A player on tonight's 25-man roster will be gone tomorrow.
It's interesting that Dombrowski isn't being clear on Inge's future. It would be really easy for him to come out and say "No, Brandon means a lot to us and we think he can still contribute to the club in a number of places," or the ilk. Not being able to immediately give a vote of confidence to Inge might be a pretty big clue. But it's not damning, either. It just leaves the door open for speculation.
Working in the direction of Inge remaining in Detroit are two key points: 1) He's owed $6 million next season (including the $500k buyout of his 2013 option). 2) Detroit doesn't have a third baseman lined up for next season. That isn't to say they can't get one, or even promote from inside the organization. But if they believe he's got anything left in the tank it would be best to keep him around.
Working against Inge are that he just isn't very good now. He hasn't been very good since 2007 -- and that year was really the exception to his career other than the first half of 2009. Also working against him is the fact the Tigers' bench is pretty well set. It's not that it's great. It's just that it's hard to see a spot for Inge on it. He's a right-handed batter like Betemit (who is a switch-hitter) so there's no platoon possible. He's not a shortstop like Ramon Santiago. Maybe it's more affordable for the Tigers to give up on Ryan Raburn and hope for the best from Inge in 2011, but Raburn does have a good second half track record.
So for those looking for me to answer the question of what happens to Inge, well, I'm just not sure. Right now i lean toward his Tigers career being over, but it might be Raburn's time in Detroit that has expired. That could be a question being discussed in the front office right now.
So I'll put it to you. What do you think happens to Inge?