The Detroit Tigers have been in a bit of a holding pattern in the first half of the season. With plenty of roles unspoken for, they have mixed and matched, and given playing time to a variety of players, all while keeping Rule 5 selection Victor Reyes on the bench as a personal pinch-runner for Victor Martinez. But some changes seem in the works as we approach the trading season. The biggest came Wednesday evening as the organization designated infielder Dixon Machado for assignment.
The 26-year-old Machado has long been considered a potential replacement for Jose Iglesias. Machado has been in the Tigers system for almost 10 years now. They kept him on the roster all season in 2017 when he was out of options, and the second baseman’s job was his for the taking in 2018. But while Machado has transitioned well to second base defensively, there is just no sign of any production from him at the plate (either present or future) and this indicates the Tigers moving on from him as part of their plans.
It also signals a short-term commitment to making Niko Goodrum the regular second baseman and giving him consistent reps. Goodrum has struggled somewhat defensively, and will need to improve, but is just a far more intriguing young player with a bat in his hand than Machado is. The move makes sense from that perspective. Ronny Rodriguez has also been recalled from Toledo, and he may be more useful than Machado as the bench infielder because he has the power and speed to affect a game in the late innings.
One also has to wonder what the move says about the future of Jose Iglesias in Detroit. The lack of a replacement in the Tigers’ farm system has generally led to expectations that the Tigers would use Machado as a stopgap measure and look for another, more offensively productive option in trade down the road. It’s certainly possible — even likely — that the Tigers will assign him to Toledo should he clear waivers (he likely will). He could still be available to help at the position should a vacancy come available. But the move is little curious were there to be expectations of trading Iglesias in the coming weeks before the trade deadline.
In addition to the big news, the Tigers also optioned Warwick Saupold to Triple-A Toledo and selected Victor Alcantara to the major league club. Saupold has a 5.76 FIP in 34 1⁄3 innings, and just hasn’t shown the ability to strike anyone out. Alcantara has pitched very well for Toledo, showcasing the lowest walk rates of his career, by far. This is his second trip to the major leagues. A short stint in 2017 did not go well at all. He will take the 40-man roster spot vacated by Machado.