The Detroit Tigers have made the decision to cut ties with outfielder Daniel Fields, designating him for assignment today according to MLive's Chris Iott. Fields, a 24-year-old outfielder, made his major league debut this year and posted a solid .328 wOBA in Triple-A Toledo with 17 stolen bases. He was considered in the running for one of the available bench spots in the outfield next year along with Tyler Collins, but Detroit decided against calling Fields up for September.
The player the Tigers replaced Fields with on the active roster is the real head-scratcher. Josh Wilson is 34 years old, is blocked in the middle infield by Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias, Andrew Romine, and Dixon Machado, and is not a good major league player; he sports a career 63 wRC+ and -0.9 fWAR in 421 games played. Calling him up in September is one thing, but maneuvering the 40-man roster to give him playing time with the team out of the race is a puzzling decision at best.
Wilson was added to the 40-man roster earlier this year when struggling infielder Hernan Perez was designated. Perez was mired in a deep slump at the time of his DFA, but teams clearly wanted his services. The Milwaukee Brewers were the very first team with the ability to pick him up off of the waiver wire, and they jumped at the chance. It's not difficult to envision the same thing happening with Fields in the next few days. They must place the former sixth round pick on waivers, where teams may take a flier on adding him to their 40-man roster.
The decision to designate Fields makes some sense if the Tigers do not see a future for him in Detroit, but replacing him on the 40-man roster with a 34-year-old journeyman infielder does not. Wilson does not offer a unique skill set compared to the other infielders already in Detroit, and he may even eat into opportunities to get Dixon Machado valuable at-bats against big league pitching.
The Tigers have shown a curious organizational philosophy in the last year or so, waffling violently between wanting to hold onto prospects like Perez and Fields, and discarding them in favor of older players with less upside. The loss of Fields for a marginal choice at best underscores this approach and the cost it's having on Detroit's available talent.