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Detroit Tigers News: Ronny Rodriguez departs on Day 1 of Winter Meetings

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The Tigers’ utility man was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Detroit Tigers v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Brewers organization is the proud new parent (club) of utility infielder Ronny Rodriguez, as it was announced on Monday that he was claimed off waivers by the Brew Crew. Also leaving the organization via a waiver claim is Marcos Diplan — a former Brewers prospect who the Tigers had claimed off waivers earlier in the offseason. Diplan will be headed to the Baltimore Orioles.

These moves feel more significant than they probably should; Rodriguez played only 142 games with the major league team over the course of two seasons, after all. This isn’t a terrible depth move for the Brewers, who are not short on middle infielders after acquiring Luis Urias and tendering Orlando Arcia a contract. Rodriguez serves better in a “break glass in case of emergency” role, which is the one he’ll serve in Milwaukee. He has two minor league options remaining on his contract, and he’ll likely start the season in Triple-A.

The Tigers are clearly making room to add players to the roster in the not-too-distant future. The Winter Meetings are a haven for deal-making, and the team has been very clear they want to shake things up in 2020. There’s plenty of room for wild speculation (Gerrit Cole, anyone?) but there probably aren’t any big moves coming down the pipe. Their current priorities are to sign a catcher and make a Rule 5 draft pick or two.

Tigers (somewhat) coming out of hibernation

General Manager Al Avila chatted with the media on Monday about his plans for the offseason, and opened his hand a bit to fans. Some of the more interesting details? Other teams want Niko Goodrum, but the Tigers aren’t shopping him. The Tigers have scouted Japanese first baseman Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, but he’s not a priority. There’s internal debate as to how many players to select in the Rule 5 draft. Management will be keeping an “open mind” about where to start the team’s top pitching prospects. For a neatly compiled list of other tidbits, check out this thread from The Athletic Tigers beat writer Cody Stavenhagen.

Getting... better?

Perhaps the most significant piece of information Avila shared with media is a shift in the way the organization views their roster. A 114-loss campaign in 2019 evidently and blessedly represents how low the Tigers want to go, and Avila is looking to shift from the “tearing down” phase of the rebuild to the “building up” phase. Contradicting that somewhat, though, he also stated that the team is going to avoid adding players on multi-year deals and would probably only be inking one-year contracts. While any improvement is better than none, this barely feels like a win.

VerHagen-in-the-box

When Jules Posner of Forbes started writing about Drew VerHagen, he had initially intended to write about his potential as a breakout star in 2020, a la Matthew Boyd’s transformation two seasons ago. He’s no longer pitching stateside, but Posner believes his potential for a breakout remains as a member of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters rotation.

“I saw Drew VerHagen training [on the Driveline Instagram account] and it changed my perspective on Drew as a player,” explained Posner to Bless You Boys. “My theory that he thinks he’s better equipped to develop there than Detroit stands as I’ve seen a lot of Driveline presence emerging in Japan and I think a lot of those orgs are embracing modern training philosophies”

Perhaps he will find the greener pastures he’s seeking in Japan. We wish him all the best!

It’s a prospect party!

Though it isn’t heralded as one of the premium prospect evaluation outlets, CBS Sports released their ranking of the top 50 minor leaguers in the game. The list was topped by Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco. Two of Detroit’s prospects made the cut: right-handers Casey Mize and Matt Manning, ranked 7th and 11th respectively. Highly complimentary of both pitchers, they were impressed by the depth of Mize’s arsenal and the improvements Manning has made since turning pro. “Mize has a trapdoor split-change that has more GIF potential than a waterskiing squirrel.”

Strasburg makin’ bank

In stark contrast with the last two years, there has been a run on the top free agents during the opening weeks of the offseason. The Nationals locked down a top-three player from the market by handing Stephen Strasburg a record contract on Monday. The details of the contract involve a full no-trade clause, a hefty payment deferment, performance-based incentive payments, and the record for average annual contract value ever given to a pitcher. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is now the largest piece of their World Series winning squad who is no longer a part of the team, but it seems unlikely that they will land him as well.

Around the horn

In a Twitter thread worth reading, Rotographs’ Alex Chamberlain details the practical effect of launch angle and batted ball data on player performance. Brady Aiken, former first overall pick, is taking an indefinite break from baseball. If he chooses not to return, he’ll be the fourth top pick to never debut. The Tigers’ new home uniforms were unveiled on Monday, and no one likes them. [Ed. note: Some people just don’t care.] Tigers legend Phil Coke is looking to make a triumphant return to the MLB. Jason Castro is at the top of the Tigers’ priority list, and we like that idea very much. Even in the offseason, there’s still praise rolling in for the Tigers’ top arms.

Baseball is awesome

The Yard Goats are awesome, too