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Tigers sign Jordy Mercer to one-year, $5.25 million deal

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General manager Al Avila promised a shortstop, and has delivered.

Pittsburgh Pirates v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It was just Tuesday evening when Al Avila promised that the Detroit Tigers would sign a shortstop — much to the relief of manager Ron Gardenhire — and on Wednesday afternoon they delivered. The Tigers have signed former Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop, first reported by Jon Heyman. Heyman also reported the deal is one-year for $5.25 million, plus $250,000 in incentives.

Update: The Tigers finally confirmed the deal on Friday.

Last month, we wrote about why Mercer would be a decent signing for the Tigers. The 32-year-old has spent his entire career thus far with the Pirates, and hit .256/.316/.383 in 821 games. In 2018, he hit .251/.315/.381 with six home runs and 29 doubles in 436 plate appearances. As we pointed out in our evaluation, Mercer is pretty much right on track with what Tigers fans expected from Jose Iglesias offensively.

In 2018, Mercer had a wRC+ of 85, compared to Iglesias’s 90. Mercer had a 1.0 WAR, Iglesias has a 2.5, and both project to be lower in 2019. In defensive terms, Mercer is a step down for sure, with a -9 DRS to Iglesias’s +1 in 2018, but he isn’t a particular liability, even with that negative number.

All in all, it’s not an exciting signing, but certainly a serviceable one. Mercer is an interesting hitter whose increasing line drive rate could signal a new plate approach. Fans will want to watch how he develops offensively with the team. Mercer should do a good job for the Tigers, and serves an immediate need for the team by plugging a hole in the infield that was among the most essential items on their player wish list.