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Tigers Den Roundtable: Who will be on the next Tigers playoff roster?

The BYB staff debates which players they most want to see around when the rebuild is over.

Cleveand Indians v Detroit Tigers Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

As the Detroit Tigers progress through their rebuild, fans and management alike will be on the lookout for players who will contribute to the team’s next contending roster. Whether they are high draft picks, trade pick-ups, or bargain bin waiver wire claims, the Tigers need a number of talented young players that will reach their primes — or continue performing well — as the calendar turns to 2020 and beyond.

We’ve focused a lot on the team’s prospects this season, but some of those players might already be here. Here’s who the BYB staff thought could stick around for when the Tigers jump back into contention.

This week’s question: Who is one player currently on the Tigers roster that you are hoping will be on the next Tigers contender?

Patrick O.: Between pending free agency, expiring contracts, and some players being just not very good, there are very few position players in the lineup that I would expect to be part of the Tigers’ next contender. I would like to see JaCoby Jones continue to make contact often enough to establish himself as a solid major league hitter. His skill set and versatility can be a real asset to the team.

Chris: I’d like Daniel Norris to get healthy, get it together, and be a piece on the contending team. We know how good he can be. We saw it on full display in 2016. We even saw some of that this season before he had to go under the knife. He can strike guys out if he can keep his location. And he will still be young enough when the time comes for the Tigers to contend again. If he stays healthy, finds some consistency in where he releases the ball to better his command, and can get his velocity back up, then I see no reason they don’t find a role for him, be it as a starter or otherwise.

Ron: I believe that player to be JaCoby Jones. The way he is progressing this season both offensively and defensively puts him easily as a 2+ WAR outfielder (he has amassed 0.7 WAR in the first 34 games). Plus, he can play any position in the outfield, and has prior experience at shortstop and third base, so realistically he’s a well above average utility player. Not to mention the energy he’s injected into the 2018 team, which has been praised by his teammates, the coaches and fans alike. He’s a team-player and wants more than anything for the team to succeed before he worries about individual success. Given all these factors it’s hard to see JaCoby not being a vital part to the next contending Tigers team.

Ashley: I’m going with Jones, which isn’t something I’d have said at the beginning of the season. He’s just fun, and that’s something this team needs. He has the youth, the energy, and the spark to be the kind of player that fans really latch onto. Given the turnover the team will see in the coming years, that’s not nothing. Fans want a guy whose name they know, whose jersey they want to buy. I don’t think Jones is quite at iconic must-own jersey status yet, but he’s absolutely on the fast-track to becoming a fan favorite. He has also shown a willingness to work and develop himself at the plate, and it’s paying off in a big way. He’s exciting, and I hope he’s on a roller coaster that just keeps going up.

Rob: Casey Mize.

No, my actual answer is Michael Fulmer. If he’s on the next Tigers contender, it would hopefully mean that he has taken a step forward and is a true No. 1 starter, leading the team’s rotation as they enter the postseason. It would also mean that the rest of the current rebuild has gone well, and the Tigers did not need to trade him for additional prospects. It’s sort of a cop-out answer, as Fulmer’s status with the team is sort of a proxy for the rebuild as a whole, but where he ends up by 2020 will say a lot about where this franchise is headed.

Jake: I hope Joe Jimenez is our lockdown closer when the Tigers win the World Series in 2021.

Brandon: I’ll take Jeimer Candelario. In about a half-season of work, the Tigers’ third baseman has shown himself a professional hitter from both sides of the plate. He has also displayed more raw power than some scouts predicted. Candelario doesn’t have the range to be a plus third baseman defensively, but his hands and arms make up for it to a degree. Eventually, he will probably be splitting time at first base with Miguel Cabrera, but for now, he’s an on-base machine with thump, and a perfect No. 2 hitter in the Tigers lineup. Hopefully the wrist issue is manageable.

Peter: I’ll say Nicholas Castellanos. He’s 26 this year, so by the time the Tigers are competitive again he’ll be just over 30. With the Tigers farm thin on bats and him showing us he’s not a complete train wreck in right field, he will be valuable to our hopes of competing. The Tigers have competed before with corner outfielders that aren’t known for their gloves (hi, Maggs and Delmon) but that provided a solid power bat in the middle of the lineup in their 30s. To me, Nicholas would fit that mold and keep carrying on the chemistry the team has going right now. He would need to be extended soon, but he shouldn’t cost an unreasonable amount to keep around. I would hope a deal can get done since the Tigers farm isn’t overflowing with extra prospects to swing many trades to bring some in.

Jeff: My answer is also Castellanos, even though he’s due to become a free agent in 2020. The Tigers drafted him and we followed him through his development in the minors. We saw him struggle in the Majors and then adjust to become a better hitter almost every year of his major league career. He is currently hitting .324/.383/.514 and his 139 wRC+ is 28th in all of baseball. He is truly a franchise player and it would be a shame if he was not a part of the next competitive Tigers team.

Patrick: I almost went with Fulmer, but I figure there is a stronger need on the position player side of the equation. Not that the pitching is settled, but there are so many other possibilities.

Jay: I’ve decided that the player who will be on the next contending club is Dawel Lugo. Just hear me out on this one. He’s a versatile player — he can play third, he can “play” second, and he could probably stand at shortstop or first in a freak circumstance. He also has a knack for making contact, and while he often chases bad pitches, he almost always puts the bat on the ball. While that may put you in mind of Jose Iglesias, fear not! Lugo also has plenty of power that allows him to drive balls deep into gaps and over the fence. While he isn’t the most useful player, that also means that teams won’t be asking for him in trades (like Michael Fulmer). That said, I think Lugo will be a capable enough last-man-on-the-bench type player to make the long haul to 20-something when Detroit makes their next run at the postseason.