While the outcome is the same as 2015, the way we got here was much different. The Detroit Tigers optioned outfielder Steven Moya and shortstop Dixon Machado to Triple-A Toledo on Saturday, a pair of moves that we expected coming into spring training.
To his credit, Moya made the decision much more difficult this year. The 24-year-old slugger hit .367/.367/.800 with four home runs in 30 at-bats, a far cry from the .375 OPS he posted in 32 at-bats last year. This improvement comes after a strong showing in the Dominican Winter League, in which Moya hit .298/.350/.466 with 13 extra-base hits in 143 plate appearances.
Both Moya and Machado spent most of the 2015 season in Toledo, but could still use some minor league seasoning before moving up to the majors full-time. Moya struggled to make contact for most of the season, striking out 162 times in 535 plate appearances. He hit 20 home runs and 30 doubles, but did not do much else, finishing the year with a .240 batting average and .283 on-base percentage.
Machado also saw his offensive numbers decline in 2015 after a breakout season at Double-A Erie the year before. The slender Venezuelan made his big league debut last season, but hit just .235/.307/.279 in 78 plate appearances. His minor league numbers were not much better, at .261/.313/.332 in 567 plate appearances.
In Moya's case, the timing of his option may be a positive sign. Designated hitter Victor Martinez has been hobbled with a hamstring injury for the past two weeks, even putting his status for Opening Day in doubt. Sending arguably the team's best DH option behind Martinez down to the minors may indicate that the 37-year-old will be ready for action in early April.
Barring unforseen circumstances -- players need to spend at least 20 days in the minor leagues to use an option year -- both Moya and Machado will burn their final minor league options in 2016. The Tigers have established major league options ahead of them already, but strong seasons from either prospect could create a happy problem for the Tigers' front office next winter. It's hard to see the team trading any of Jose Iglesias, J.D. Martinez, or Justin Upton, but a lot can change over the next six to eight months.
This round of cuts leaves the Tigers with 40 players in camp. As many as five of the remaining players may start the season on the disabled list, leaving the Tigers with around 10 more cuts to make in order to pare down to their 25-man roster for Opening Day.
Still in camp
Starting pitchers: Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann, Anibal Sanchez, Mike Pelfrey, Shane Greene, Matt Boyd, Buck Farmer
Relief pitchers: Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe, Justin Wilson, Drew VerHagen, Bruce Rondon, Kyle Ryan, Bobby Parnell, Lendy Castillo, Logan Kensing
Catchers: James McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Bryan Holaday, Raffy Lopez
Infielders: Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias, Nick Castellanos, Andrew Romine, Mike Aviles, Casey McGehee
Outfielders: J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Anthony Gose, Tyler Collins, Wynton Bernard, Nate Schierholtz, John Mayberry
Injury list: Victor Martinez, Daniel Norris, Cameron Maybin, Alex Wilson, Blaine Hardy, Jeff Ferrell